By Nathan Baker
The judge presiding over the case of an Elizabethton mother charged with murder and negligence in the death of her 4-year-old son said an objection made by a third-party attorney was the first of its kind that he could recall.
“In all my years of practice, this is the first time I’ve ever seen anybody resist turning over a piece of evidence like this,” Judge Robert Cupp said Tuesday regarding an objection made by the attorney for dump truck driver Terry Joe Kyte, who was behind the wheel of the truck in October when Joshua Holston was struck and killed on Broad Street.
Tiffani Holston, the boy’s mother, was later charged with aggravated child neglect and first-degree murder by police, who said the woman was paying improper attention and failed to activate the crosswalk signal before the incident.
Holston’s appointed public defender, Melanie Sellers, filed a motion to allow an expert to examine the dump truck to create a three-dimensional model of it and test line-of-sight distances; that motion was opposed last month by a Knoxville attorney.
At that hearing, attorney Terrill Adkins, of the firm Trammell, Adkins and Ward, said the measurements of the truck by the defense attorney’s expert would constitute an illegal search and seizure of Kyte’s property and would violate his Fourth Amendment rights.
Adkins reasoned that allowing the modeling could negatively affect the driver in a civil lawsuit that could potentially be filed by Holston’s family against him.
On Tuesday, attorney Andrew Lewis, also of the Knoxville firm, reiterated those concerns.
“My client is not a party to this action, and he has not been accused of doing anything wrong in this court to allow somebody to come and take his vehicle,” Lewis said. “This is a private vehicle, and this would be operating as a seizure.
“For practical purposes, even if my client was high, drunk or any other thing it wouldn’t matter, because whether or not my client did anything wrong is irrelevant to the child neglect charge.”