Attorney withdraws from representing Pitts in attempted murder case

Published 4:56 pm Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Court proceedings for a man charged with multiple counts of attempted murder may face a delay as the man’s attorney has withdrawn from the case.

Kelly Lee Pitts, 38, of Elizabethton, appeared in Carter County Criminal Court on Jan. 12 for a scheduled motion hearing in his case. Pitts 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.

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It was during this court appearance that Pitts’ attorney, Greg Norris, asked the court’s permission to withdraw from his representation of Pitts. Following Pitts’ arrest in December 2015 the Public Defender’s Office was appointed by the General Sessions Court to represent Pitts. However, Pitts’ family later hired Norris to represent him, and the Public Defender’s Office was relieved of representation. Norris became the attorney of record for Pitts on March 2, 2016.

At the court appearance on Jan. 12, Norris made an oral motion to the court asking permission to withdraw as Pitts’ attorney and also filed a written version of the request with the court.

In the written motion, Norris states that he has “encountered issues with his current office” and therefore had relocated his law offices. “Due to this relocation (I) will likely be unable to represent Defendant as zealously as required, and that withdrawal is in the best interest of the defendant,” Norris states in the written motion.

Criminal Court Judge Stacy Street granted the request by Norris and appointed the Public Defender’s Office to once again represent Pitts.

As a result of the withdrawal, the motion hearing in the case was not heard on Jan. 12.

Street scheduled the case to return to court on April 2, for a status update in the case, which is currently set for trial on April 3. That trial date could potentially be postponed as the Public Defender’s Office gets up to speed on the case and addresses any motions or other actions that need be taken.

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. Deputies 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. Pitts is accused of opening fire on the officers while they were on the scene.

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 AK-47 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.