Court dismisses murder case
Published 9:01 am Monday, October 12, 2015
A first degree murder case against a Carter County woman has been dismissed after a Grand Jury failed to re-indict her in the case.
For nearly two years, Tiffani Marie Holston, 30, of Elizabethton, has faced charges of first degree murder and aggravated child neglect in the death of her 4-year-old son Joshua Holston, who was struck by a dump truck in a crosswalk at the intersection of Broad Street and Lynn Avenue and died as a result of his injures.
The fatal accident happened on Oct. 11, 2012, and Holston was indicted a month later. Under state law, a person can be charged with first degree murder if someone died while they were committing a felony crime. In this case, the state used the felony charge of aggravated child neglect as the basis for the first degree murder charge.
On Thursday, the charges against Holston were dropped in Criminal Court. Holston’s attorney, Don Spurrell, filed a motion seeking to have the case dismissed after a grand jury failed to issue an indictment when the case was re-presented by the state.
Spurrell argued in his motion that the most recent grand jury inquiry into the matter should take precedence over any previous proceedings. In Criminal Court on Thursday, the District Attorney’s Office agreed with Spurrell’s opinion on the matter and agreed to a dismissal of the case.
The case against Holston was re-presented to the grand jury after the original indictment was contested in January 2013 by Assistant Public Defender Melanie Sellers, who represented Holston at that time.
Sellers asserted the indictment did not clearly articulate how Holston had allegedly committed the act of aggravated child neglect, but only alleged that she had.
The court granted Sellers’ challenge to the indictment and the case was presented to the grand jury for a second time. The grand jury returned an indictment charging Holston with aggravated child neglect and first degree murder, but once again Sellers challenged the indictment on the same grounds. Sellers then filed a motion seeking the dismissal of the re-indictment. The court granted the motion to dismiss and the state sent the case back to the grand jury for a third time.
This time, the grand jury returned a “No True Bill,” which means the grand jury did not find enough evidence in the presentment to support the requested charges.
If the case had not been dismissed, Holston was scheduled to stand trial on the charges on Oct. 13.
While the murder case against Holston was dismissed, she remains held in the Carter County Detention Center serving time on a conviction for violation of probation. Holston also has two additional charges currently pending in Criminal Court — theft of property under $500 and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Those two charges stem from a December 2014 incident where employees of a local retail store said Holston allegedly shoplifted $8 in merchandise. When officers arrived to investigate the shoplifting complaint, Holston was allegedly found to be in possession of drug paraphernalia, primarily several syringes.
Holston is scheduled to appear in Criminal Court on Monday on her remaining pending charges.