Change of venue means Washington County will hear Kelly Pitts attempted murder case this month

John Thompson • Jan 9, 2019 at 9:12 PM

ELIZABETHTON — This month’s trial of Kelly Lee Pitts, 39, will be held in Washington County instead of Carter County.

Pittsis charged with seven counts of attempted first-degree murder and seven counts of possession of a firearm in the commission of a dangerous felony.

The decision to grant a change of venue was made Wednesday afternoon in Criminal Court Judge Stacy Street’s courtroom after attorneys held a discussion in the judge’s chambers.

The result of the decision is that the case, which has been in Carter County since 2015, will now be a Washington County case heard by a Washington County jury. Appeals will also be handled in Washington County.

The case is set for trial on Jan 28-30.

A change of venue had been discussed previously in the case. Attorneys have presented a long list of media stories on the standoff that appeared in local outlets and regional and national stories. The attorneys said the media coverage continued even though it has taken since Dec. 16, 2015, to get the case to trial.

An earlier motion for a change in venue argued: “Any prospective juror exposed to any of these stories will already be in a biased mindset …”

Pitts is accused of being involved in a shootout at his residence at 433 Dry Hollow Road on Dec. 16, 2015. Carter County Sheriff Dexter Lunceford and three of his deputies, Sgt. David Caldwell, Deputy Jason Mosier and Deputy Jenna Markland were pinned down by the shooting. Markland suffered an injury to her face and and spent the night in the hospital. A civilian at the scene was also evacuated with an injury to her hand.

Pitts allegedly opened fire on the officers as they stopped on the road in front of his home. The officers took cover in a ditch behind their cruisers.

The standoff went on for several hours before Pitts was taken into custody.

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