A man charged with assault with a weapon changed his plea from not guilty to guilty in a Merritt provincial courtroom last Wednesday.

Adrian Retasket was charged for hitting a man named Arthur Dick with a baseball bat in downtown Merritt last November outside the downtown dollar store.

Retasket – who told the Herald the assault was in retribution for a previous incident allegedly involving Dick and Retasket’s girlfriend – originally entered a not guilty plea.

Defence counsel Chris Thompson asked to enter a pre-sentence report as well as a Gladue report, which will take into account the defendant’s native background.

A Gladue report aims to make jail time a last resort.

Three police officers with the Worth-brand baseball bat that was to be used as evidence were brought in to testify.

Three witnesses and Retasket’s girlfriend, Lani Mackenzie, were brought in to testify as well.

Just Mackenzie and one witness to the incident testified before the defence entered a new plea of guilty.

Mackenzie told court that she had dropped off Retasket near the Pharmasave parking lot, but couldn’t remember much else of the incident.

The Pharmasave is located beside the dollar store.

Mackenzie had faced charges of assault earlier in the day for her role in the incident for driving Retasket to the area where the assault occurred, but they were dropped by Crown prosecutor William Burrows.

The witness who testified, William Pitts, 60, said in court he saw a man get out of a wine-coloured car with a bat and run up to a man sitting on a bench outside the dollar store.

The man with the bat tapped the other man on the shoulder, who then turned around and was struck in the head with the bat and again in the chest, Pitts said.

Pitts originally started to pursue the attacker on foot, but lost the man when he fled down an alley. Then he got back in his car and followed the wine-coloured car he saw the man get out of, Pitts said. The man fled a second time when he saw Pitts tailing the car as he was trying to re-enter it, Pitts testified.

Arrests by police soon followed.

“Witnesses who saw the assault flagged down police officers and one of them followed the getaway vehicle until the police pulled it over, but none of the witnesses could identify the person who swung the bat as being Mr. Retasket, so we basically had to prove it was Mr. Retasket by continuity of the vehicle,” Burrows told the Herald.

“When Lani testified that he was in the vehicle and she let him out at that place at that time, then we had enough evidence where he knew he would be convicted so he changed his plea.”

Burrows said the Crown proceeded summarily so the maximum sentence Retasket can receive is 18 months in prison.

“It’ll depend a lot on the pre-sentence report and his record,” Burrows said.

Thompson, the defence lawyer, said it was necessary to change the plea as the witness proved the continuity of the car and the fact he saw a man get out of it with a bat. He said Mackenzie’s testimony proved that Retasket was in the car and that she dropped him off at the scene of the crime.

Sentencing is set to take place on Oct. 10 in Kamloops.