March 29, 2001 11:00 pm

ENTERPRISE An attempted murder charge has been added to those already filed against a rural Joseph man who was jailed last week for allegedly beating an acquaintance.

Aaron Welch, 30, was arrested at his home March 22 on charges of first-degree burglary and second-degree assault.

Welch was arraigned March 23 on the original charges and also on charges of attempted murder and fourth-degree assault. Bail was set at $300,000.

Welch was denied release at a circuit court hearing Thursday afternoon. According to court officials, Welch has requested another release hearing. It has not been scheduled, but could occur as early as Monday.

According to police reports, Welch had been drinking with other people at his Hurricane Creek home, west of Joseph, just before the reported incident.

Early in the morning hours of March 22 police said Welch went to Hjortens apartment in Joseph, woke him up and began striking him. After Welch left, Hjortens wife who had been at Welchs home earlier in the evening arrived and called 911 about 3:15 a.m.

Hjorten was transported to Wallowa Memorial Hospital. Police said Hjorten sustained a broken rib, a punctured lung and abrasions and contusions of the head. He was released later from the hospital.

Union County Deputy District Attorney Janie Burcart is prosecuting the case as Wallowa County District Attorney Dan Ousley is on vacation. Rick Dall of La Grande is Welchs court-appointed attorney.