By Gary Lloyd
TRUSSVILLE — An attorney for youth evangelist and The Basement founder Matt Pitt said today his client will be released from Shelby County Jail next month.
“I can confirm that we expect him to be released (in April),” Brian Ritchey said.
A story today in The Christian Post states that Pitt should be released in the middle of April.
Ritchey earlier this month filed a Rule 32 petition in Shelby County Circuit Court attacking the revocation of Pitt’s probation in October.
“Our position is that new facts have come to light that put into question the truthfulness of the state’s primary witness to the Jefferson County incident,” Ritchey said. “The testimony of Brandon Vessels is being attacked in our motion. Another witness to the event, Brad Lunsford, has provided an affidavit that Mr. Vessels did not testify correctly and may have had a motive to try to discredit Matt. His affidavit is bolstered by one of Matt’s witnesses. Basically, we are stating that the state relied on one witness and that the other two (plus Matt) disagree with him. Thus, we want another hearing or for Matt to be released.”
Shelby County Circuit Court Judge Dan Reeves on March 20 ordered that the petition can’t be considered by the court. His order states that the petition does not comply with Rule 32. “The petitioner must remedy this defect within 14 days or the petition will be dismissed with cost taxed to the petitioner.”
Pitt in September 2012 pleaded guilty to impersonating a peace officer after he allegedly pulled behind traffic on Interstate 65 near Calera in May 2012 and activated flashing blue lights.
In August 2013, Pitt was charged with the same offense in Jefferson County relating to a June 2013 incident in Grayson Valley, in which he presented a Jefferson County honorary sheriff’s badge to Vessels and Lunsford after the two Grayson Valley residents found what they believed to be a rifle about 50 feet into the wooded area near their homes.
According to Ritchey’s filing, Lunsford’s testimony “directly contradicts the State’s main witness. Mr. Vessels claimed that Mr. Pitt was the aggressor and convinced him that he was a police officer. Mr. Lunsford testifies that Mr. Pitt never acted in that capacity and he knew that Mr. Pitt was not a police officer.”
In a Jefferson County District Court affidavit signed by Lunsford on March 15, Lunsford states that when Pitt and his cousin Bailey Little approached, Vessels, who had a handgun on his hip, “became aggressive and interrogated both Pitt and his cousin in an intimidating way.”
“There was no time when I believed Matt Pitt was a police officer,” Lunsford states in the affidavit. “At no point did he act in a way to make me think he was a police officer.”
Little, in a signed March 19 affidavit, states that, “Mr. Vessels said ‘Matt Pitt! You’re Matt Pitt? Oh I know who you are! I know what you do!’ in a mad voice. From this point Mr. Vessels’ whole attitude changed and he began talking to us in a very aggressive manner.”
Pitt’s other attorneys, Carmella Penn and Nikki Bonner, spoke to reporters Friday in Trussville. Penn said they are hoping for a “positive outcome” and that a “grave injustice” has been done to Pitt.
The Jefferson County case is currently awaiting a possible grand jury indictment.
Contact Gary Lloyd at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.