Judge dismisses attempted homicide case after Rule 600 hearing

August 21, 2014
Tyrone Lett

A Washington County judge dismissed an attempted homicide case after determining Thursday during a Rule 600 hearing the district attorney’s office failed to bring the case to trial within a year.

Tyrone Lett, 44, of 28 Raven Drive, Hendersonville, was charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, reckless endangerment, simple assault, illegal possession of a firearm and disorderly conduct after he allegedly shot a man in the face and chest with a shotgun July 13, 2013. After being charged the following day, Lett sat in prison for a full year before his case was addressed.

On Aug. 11, Lett and his attorney, Dennis Popojas, appeared before Washington County Judge John DiSalle to accept a plea bargain allowing Lett to plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts of simple assault and reckless endangerment. Lett would have been released that day.

However, DiSalle temporarily delayed the plea so he could review the allegations and allow the two sides to continue discussing the case. The Rule 600 hearing was scheduled to determine why the case wasn’t brought to trial within a year, as required under the rule.

Thursday’s hearing was brief. DiSalle dismissed the attempted homicide case, but sentenced Lett to 18 months in jail for violating terms of his probation. Popojas said Lett was on probation for driving under the influence when he allegedly shot Richard Reed at Lett’s Hendersonville home. Reed and his brother, Damon, arrived at Lett’s house after receiving a call from someone in the home directing them there. Reed was treated at Canonsburg Hospital.

“The judge had his reasons for doing what he did,” Popojas said. “We respect that.”

District Attorney Gene Vittone said he also understood the judge’s decisions. He said the failure to bring the case against Lett to court in a timely manner was the result of “human error.”

“We operate under a human system, and anytime you have a human system in place, you will have issues,” Vittone said. “I take full responsibility for this, and we have taken steps to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again.”

Vittone said those steps include a new case-management software system and additional checks throughout the judicial process.

Lett was returned to Washington County Jail, where he will remain until his 18-month sentence is complete. He was given 13 months of credit for time already served and is on work release.

Francesca Sacco joined the Observer-Reporter as a staff writer in November 2013, and covers the Washington County Courthouse and education. Prior to working with the Observer-Reporter, Francesca was a staff writer with a Gannett paper in Ohio. She graduated from Point Park University with a dual bachelor’s degree in print and broadcast journalism.

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