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Kitts to serve nine years in prison

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By Susan Sharp

With an agreement that nine years would be sufficient time for Joe Ted Kitts’ crimes, the only question left was how to serve it?

In August Kitts plead guilty to aggravated burglary, theft over $60,000, criminal simulation, possession of meth and oxycontin for resale and possession of weapon in the commission of a dangerous felony.

On Monday, his attorney Michael Hatmaker argued Kitts should see leniency. “Before the court is very young man,” Hatmaker said. “This is a person who has no parents. His sister is very supportive of him.” Hatmaker went on to say Kitts was a business owner whose family had stepped up to run the venture while he was incarcerated. “He should get one more chance,” Hatmaker said. He further noted the victim in the theft case was Kitts’ grandfather, whom he wanted to make restitution to.

However, Assistant District Attorney General Leif Jeffers had a different analysis of the situation.

“He has done whatever he wanted to,” Jeffers said. Rattling off Kitts’ recent criminal history, Jeffers pointed to five criminal episodes that took place in 18 months. Kitts proceeded to incur new charges as he awaited trial on other crimes. The only reason the wrongdoing stopped was Kitts was “locked up,” according to Jeffers.

Arguing that Kitts should serve his nine years behind bars, Jeffers said that wasn’t the typical recommendation for a defendant entering a plea for the first time. However, sentencing a person to prison on their first plea was “allowed by the law,” Jeffers pointed out.

“The court might be tempted to call this a family affair,” said Criminal Court Judge Shayne Sexton. “But the court is not inclined to call this a family affair.”

Recounting Kitts’ recent criminal episode the judge said it was a “very concentrated” occurrence. As Sexton continued with the sentencing, he said Kitts had shown “great indifference to himself and everyone affected by his crimes.”

Reading from the pre-sentencing investigation Sexton noted Kitts has been discharged from a drug program for failing to comply and having a positive narcotics screen.

“He has continued to engage in non-law abiding behavior,” the judge said. “He is remanded to TDOC (Tennessee Department of Corrections) for service of this sentence.”

A number of Kitts’ charges resulted from a June 2009 raid conducted by the LaFollette Police Department.

Acting on information of possible illegal activity the LPD served a search warrant on Kitts Tires, the business owned by Kitts.

Once inside the tire shop police found not only guns and drugs but also a significant amount of counterfeit cash, the arrest warrant written by Det. Sgt. Jason Henegar said.

Specifically authorities found a half gram of meth, oxycontin, and weighing scales. They also found just over $58,000 in counterfeit cash. The phony money consisted of 12 sheets that each had 48 uncut $100 bills, seven $100 bills and nine $20 bills, according to Henegar’s report.

The cache of guns included a .12 gauge shotgun and .22 caliber rifle.

Kitts other crimes included an accomplice.

In Aug. 2009, Kitts and Kelly Bruce Dople were arrested for aggravated burglary and theft over $60,000.

The sheriff’s department named the two as suspects in a home invasion. According to the report, the homeowner said $82,000 worth of property and $9,000 in cash had been taken from his home.

When Detective Brandon Elkins acquired knowledge Dople and Kitts were possibly involved a search of Kitts’ Tire Shop was executed. In the course of the search, a tire and rim came under scrutiny. Kitts admitted they contained guns and coins from the burglary. He then assisted the police in recovering the items.