Judge sets trial date for man accused of opening fire on police

Published 6:21 pm Thursday, April 6, 2017

A Carter County man will stand trial this fall on multiple charges of attempted murder in connection with an incident in December 2015 where he allegedly opened fire on police officers.

Kelly Lee Pitts, 37, of 433 Dry Hollow Road, appeared before Judge Stacy Street Thursday morning for a status update. He stands charged with seven counts of attempted first-degree murder and seven counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony.

“Mr. Pitts’ case was sent back to Sessions Court to do another preliminary hearing because the first one was not recorded properly,” Street said, noting the District Attorney’s Office had attempted to enhance that recording but was not able to correct the problems with the original.

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A new preliminary hearing for Pitts was held on Feb. 3. Street asked Pitts’ attorney Greg Norris if he was able to take part in the new preliminary hearing and Norris said he had.

Street asked both Norris and Assistant District Attorney General Janet Hardin what scheduling requirements they would have for the case.

Hardin said the state was ready to proceed to trial in the matter while Hardin said he anticipated he would need to file a few motions in regards to the case.

The trial is expected to last three days. Street set the trial to begin on Oct. 31 and continue through Nov. 1 and Nov. 2. If need be, Street said the jury could continue deliberations on Nov. 3.

Street also scheduled a motions hearing for June 5. If there are matters to address after that date, Street said he would set another motion hearing before the date of the trial.

The charges against Pitts stem from an incident that began during the evening hours of Dec. 16, 2015, and carried over into the early morning hours on Dec. 17, 2015, in the area of Pitts’ home on Dry Hollow Road.

Officers of the Carter County Sheriff’s Office responded to a complaint of an intoxicated man at 433 Dry Hollow Road who was waving a gun around.

Carter County Sheriff Dexter Lunceford was the first officer to arrive on the scene, and he began speaking to the woman who called 911, Brandy Hyder, and two other area residents — identified as Michael Hyder and Greg Hardin. Lunceford said CCSO Sgt. David Caldwell, Deputy Jason Mosier and Deputy Jenna Markland arrived on scene a short time later.

Before the newly arrived officers could get out of their vehicles, Pitts allegedly opened fire on the officers and civilians. Lunceford said the officers had not been in contact with Pitts and he fired on the group without warning. During the gunfire, Markland suffered two gunshot wounds to her face, and Brandy Hyder was shot in the hand.

During the preliminary hearing, Lunceford testified Pitts fired around 25 to 30 rounds at officers, paused for a few seconds and then fired another 25 to 30 rounds. In addition to the two women who were injured, three police vehicles were severely damaged by gunshots, Lunceford said.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Scott Lott testified during the preliminary hearing that agents recovered an AK47 and an SKS assault rifle from Pitts’ home following his arrest. In addition to the rifles, Lott said the forensics team recovered 52 spent shell casings in the same bedroom. The casings were sent for ballistics analysis. Lott said the tests showed that 22 rounds were fired from the AK-47 and 30 rounds were fired from the SKS.