Morton Man Charged for Allegedly Attacking Woman With ‘Fighting Stick’


A Morton man is facing assault charges for allegedly attacking a woman with a “fighting stick” on Tuesday. 

Lewis County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to the dispute after a reporting party stated that James Ray Van Renselaar had just fired a 12-gauge shotgun at their vehicle and he was “trying to kill his mother,” according to the affidavit of probable cause filed in Lewis County Superior Court. 

Deputies spoke with the reporting party and the alleged victim, who stated that Van Renselaar had “hit her several times with his hands and fists, and then hit her on the head with a ‘fighting stick,’ described as “a large stick with carvings on it,” and subsequently shot at her vehicle with what she described as “a sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun,” according to court documents. 

Van Renselaar was arrested and booked into the Lewis County Jail at 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 24. Deputies conducted a search and found “several wooden sticks” along with numerous pistol holders and various types of cartridges, but did not locate any firearms. 

Van Renselaar attempted to read a statement in his defense during his preliminary appearance in Lewis County Superior Court on Feb. 25, but was told by Judge Joely A. O’Rourke that it was not the appropriate hearing for that kind of statement. She advised him to wait until his March 4 arraignment hearing. 

“I wish you would hear me out, there’s much more to this that’s not being said,” said Van Renselaar. “I really didn’t do this and I can prove it.” 

Defense attorney Rachael Tiller stated that she found the probable cause affidavit “lacking” information on the incident, and cited the fact that deputies couldn’t find the firearm that was allegedly fired and Van Renselaar’s lack of violent criminal history as reasons for Van Renselaar’s release. 

O’Rourke, however, set Van Renselaar’s bail at $100,000 cash or bond, in accordance with deputy prosecutor Brian Meagher’s request. 

“He does have some warrant history, but it’s the nature of the offense that does cause concern that he could seriously injure somebody if he is released,” Meagher said. 

A no-contact order was also issued for the victim. 



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