Did Kevin Chitty believe that Jerry Martin had a gun?
That's the question jurors will wrestle with as they listen to testimony and see evidence in Chitty's attempted second-degree murder trial this week in Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Don Poole's courtroom.
Prosecutor Cameron Williams told jurors during opening statements Tuesday that "there will be no proof that there was a gun in the possession of Jerry Martin."
But defense attorney Lee Davis quickly clouded any simple idea of what happened the night of Nov. 24, 2011, with details he said the jury must examine as the trial unfolds.
Both sides agree -- Martin, 37, slammed his Oldsmobile into the back of Chitty's Ford F-150 pickup truck while Chitty was stopped at the intersection of Bonny Oaks Drive and Jersey Pike.
In the truck with Chitty, 45, were his two teenage sons and his 1-year-old grandson. The group was heading home from Thanksgiving at the home of Chitty's wife's family.
Martin had been drinking and later told prosecutors he'd looked down to adjust his radio when he struck Chitty.
Once the collision occurred, Chitty got out of his truck, with a gun.
That is where versions of events diverge.
Martin told prosecutors he felt threatened and drove away. While driving he lost control of his car and hit a Dumpster. Two bystanders checked on him. He couldn't move.
One of the people checking on Martin was a nurse, who told him he'd been shot.
Chitty called 911 and told an operator he thought the other driver had a gun, so he fired.
Nearly two years later, Chitty faces a charge of attempted second-degree murder. Martin is paralyzed.
Davis told jurors that Chitty feared for his safety and his family's. He thought that as Martin backed up the car from the crash he was going to ram his truck again or was trying to rob him.
"The 98 Oldsmobile that ran into you is what can kill you," Davis told the jury. "It's perfectly reasonable for you to get out a gun."
But Williams sees it otherwise.
"(Chitty) fired a weapon at an unarmed man as he was driving away, paralyzing him," Williams told the jury.
Contact staff writer Todd South at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @tsouthCTFP.
Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...