Man charged with opening fire on police in December appears in Criminal Court

Published 12:07 pm Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Star Photo/Abby Morris-Frye  Kelly Lee Pitts, who is charged with seven counts of attempted murder in connection with a December 2015 shootout with police appeared in Carter County Criminal Court on Monday.

Star Photo/Abby Morris-Frye
Kelly Lee Pitts, who is charged with seven counts of attempted murder in connection with a December 2015 shootout with police appeared in Carter County Criminal Court on Monday.

A Carter County man charged with seven counts of attempted murder after he allegedly opened fire on police officers in December 2015 appeared in court on Monday for a case update regarding his re-indictment in the case.
In December 2015, officers of the Carter County Sheriff’s Office arrested Kelly Lee Pitts, 37, of 433 Dry Hollow Road, and charged him with seven counts of attempted first degree murder.
Following a preliminary hearing in March, Pitts was bound over to a Carter County Grand Jury. On May 4, the Grand Jury indicted Pitts on seven counts of attempted first degree murder and also seven counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony.
The District Attorney’s Office decided to present the case to the Grand Jury once again and on July 5, the Grand Jury re-indicted Pitts on the previous charges.
“It adds some language to the charges that increases the seriousness of the offense,” Assistant District Attorney Janet Hardin said in court on Monday. “It increases the release eligibility up to 85 percent.”
The increased release eligibility means if Pitts is convicted as charged, he would be required to serve a minimum of 85 percent of his sentence before he would become eligible for parole.
Attorney Greg Norris, who represents Pitts, waived formal reading of the new indictment in court on Monday and entered a plea of not guilty on behalf of his client.
Previously, Norris had filed a motion with the court seeking a new preliminary hearing for his client.
In his motion, Norris said he had requested a copy of the audio recording of the preliminary hearing held on March 11, which led to Pitts being bound over to the Grand Jury, in order to prepare for his client’s defense in the case. Norris said he received the audio recording only to discover “the audio recording of said hearing was inaudible and unusable in its current state.”
Norris asked the court to grant a new preliminary hearing on the charges or, in the alternative, to direct the state to attempt to enhance and transcribe the recording of the previous preliminary hearing. If the court allows the state to enhance the recording, Norris asked the court to reserve its ruling on a motion for a new preliminary hearing until it was determined if the enhanced audio recording was usable.
On Monday, Norris said he had received the enhanced audio from the state and asked that, in light of the enhanced recording and the new indictment, that the court reset the case to return to court and allow him time to review the information.
Judge Stacy Street scheduled the case to return to his courtroom on August 5.
The charges against Pitts stem from a Dec. 16, 2015, incident in Stoney Creek where Pitts allegedly opened fire on officers responding to a 911 call about an intoxicated man armed with a gun.
Carter County Sheriff Dexter Lunceford was the first officer to arrive on the scene, followed shortly thereafter by CCSO Sgt. David Caldwell, Deputy Jason Mosier and Deputy Jenna Markland.
During the preliminary hearing, Lunceford testified that he was talking with Michael Hyder, his daughter Brandy Hyder and Greg Hardin in the roadway in front of the home at 433 Dry Hollow Road when the other officers arrived on scene. Lunceford said as the other officers were exiting their cruisers someone began shooting at the officers from inside the home.
The officers took cover behind their vehicles and Lunceford said he heard 25 to 30 shots fired, followed by a short break of a few seconds and then a second burst of 25-30 shots.
After the second round of shots, Lunceford said he heard a man yell that someone had been shot and he later learned Brandy Hyder had been struck in the hand by a bullet.
It was around this time that Lunceford said he also realized Markland had been struck in the head.
“It was dark and a little hard to see but I saw this dark stuff spreading on her face and I knew what it was,” Lunceford said.
With the help of Michael Hyder, Lunceford said the officers were able to evacuate Markland and Brandy Hyder to waiting ambulances and they were taken to the hospital for treatment.
During the preliminary hearing, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Scott Lott said when officers searched Pitts’ home they found an SKS rifle and an AK47 assault rifle lying on a bed in the bedroom officers believe the shots were fired from.
“The forensic scientists recovered 52 7.62 shell casings from that bedroom,” Lott said. “The magazines that were recovered were 30-round magazines.”
During his testimony, Lott read from a statement which Pitts gave to investigators on the night he was arrested.
“I had an AK47 and I shot into the crowd a few times,” Lott read from Pitts’ statement. “I didn’t soot at the cars.”

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