Kevin Chitty was found not guilty of attempted second degree murder and aggravated assault charges today.
Chitty, 45, was charged with attempted second-degree murder in the 2011 Thanksgiving night shooting of Jerry Martin, 37. While Chitty was stopped at a traffic light at the intersection of Bonny Oaks Drive and Jersey Pike, Martin rear-ended his vehicle.
Chitty later told police that Martin backed up and he saw Martin point a gun at him. Chitty fired a handgun twice at Martin's Oldsmobile. Bullets struck Martin both times.His car crashed nearby. He was instantly paralyzed by a bullet in his neck.
Two bystanders immediately went to Martin's car. One was a nurse who rendered aid, the other a man who called 911. At about the same time, Chitty had realized he may have hit Martin and stopped his car at an adjacent gas station and also called 911.
In statements to 911, police and his wife, Chitty varied slightly in what he saw. Initially he said Martin had a gun, then he said he thought Martin had a gun, then he said Martin had a gun or something.
Prosecutor Cameron Williams argued to the jury throughout the three-day trial that thinking there was a gun and firing at a person driving away from the scene of an accident was an unreasonable reaction and therefore Chitty was guilty.
However, defense attorneys Lee Davis and Bryan Hoss argued that Chitty feared for his two teenage sons and infant grandson, all inside his truck.
Davis and Hoss said the conditions of the scene, a dark night, encountering a stranger who already had struck the rear of his car and the fact that their client thought Martin had a gun all added up to create conditions in which Chitty thought he needed deadly force to protect himself and his family.
For more see tomorrow's Times Free Press.