TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Whitley County Sheriff Investigation

February 24, 2012

Bunch, West testify in Fritts trial

Bunch says he watched Doyle Fritts sell drugs; West says Doyle Fritts handed him gun during sale

CORBIN — Feb. 24, 2012.pdf

By Carl Keith Greene/Staff Writer

In U.S. District Court in London, Jerry Bunch took the witness stand Thursday morning in the trial of Doyle and Jerry Fritts.

Assistant United States Attorney Sam Dotson asked Bunch about his association with the Fritts brothers. He said he had known them for several years.

He asked Bunch about Doyle Fritts selling drugs and Bunch said he had seen him sell drugs.

At one point, Bunch was notified by Doyle Fritts that Doyle Fritts’ brother, Charles Fritts, had a shotgun for sale and suggested that Bunch’s brother-in-law, Larry West, might want the shotgun.

West, of Monticello, was next on the witness stand. Dotson began by asking him if he knew the Fritts brothers. He said he did know Doyle Fritts but not Jerry Fritts.

West testified that Doyle Fritts handed the shotgun to him when the transaction took place and Doyle Fritts took the cash from West.

Doyle Fritts “handed (the gun) to me,” he said.

Also came up was the fact that the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Explosives agents had called seeking the gun that West had bought as part of another case involving former Whitley County Sheriff Lawrence Hodge. The gun, the ATF believed, had come from Hodge’s office at some point.

Larry West was in Florida when the call came and he suggested to the ATF to get the gun from his wife who was at home.

She gave them a shotgun but it was not the one Larry West had bought. When Larry West came back home he had suggested that the two go back to Florida where they had another home.

When they were leaving home he noticed the gun he had bought was in the garage. He immediately notified ATF that the wrong gun had been taken.

At that point the United States closed its case.

The case of the Fritts brothers took over after the lunch break with Doyle Fritts on the witness stand.

His lawyer Eric Edwards opened the defense by asking Doyle Fritts how old he is and where he had lived.

Doyle Fritts said he is 47 and has lived in Williamsburg for most of his life.

He has done construction for 26 years and for the last couple of years worked for Jerry Bunch and his wrecker/towing business.

He said that he is a convicted felon and came out of jail in April 2009.

Edwards asked him to tell the jury what happened on Feb. 25, 2011.

Doyle Fritts said he sold two pills to a person he didn’t know was a cooperative witness sent by the ATF.

Doyle Fritts said he had gotten the pills from a source in Jellico, Tenn.

And on March 4, he sold 15 pills to another cooperative witness. The witness had called Doyle Fritts about the price of the pills and when they were discussing price he told the cooperative witness that he would have to go to Jellico for more, as he had done earlier.

After getting the pills Doyle Fritts got back to Williamsburg in 15 to 20 minutes, he told Edwards, came back to his home on Ted Ball Road and made the sale.

The cooperative witness bought the 15 pills for $480.

Doyle Fritts and Jerry Fritts had counted the cost of the pills and learned they had shorted the cooperative witness $100.

About that time the cooperative witness called back and Doyle Fritts explained to the witness what had happened and they agreed to stop at a local grocery store where Doyle Fritts would give him the money.

They were going there anyway with their mother who had been out of town to pick up some groceries.

When they got there the witness had arrived and Jerry Fritts had gotten out of the car and wandered away and the witness got the $100 from Doyle Fritts.

Then on the stand, the gun sale by Charles Fritts came up from Edwards.

Doyle Fritts said that one day Hodge told how he had a gun to get to Charles Fritts, who bought the gun.

Charles Fritts brought the gun to his mother’s home and hid it in a bedroom. Charles Fritts told Doyle Fritts about Larry West and Charles made the deal.

West showed up at the Ted Ball Road site and they went to the living room. Charles Fritts got up and went to the bedroom to get the firearm.

West examined it, made the deal with Charles Fritts and paid him $150.

Doyle Fritts said on the witness stand that he had not handled the gun or the money.

The following witness was Courtney Fritts, Jerry Fritts’ 18-year-old daughter.

During the time that Doyle Fritts had been selling the 15 pills to the cooperative witness, she had arrived at the site wanting money for a prom dress from her father, Jerry Fritts.

He came to her white Volkswagen and talked. She said it was leaking water or oil, she couldn’t remember which. Her father opened the hood and looked into it. Then she left.

There was some thinking that Jerry Fritts had given his daughter some pills, but in her testimony she said he had not given her any pills. Nor, she added, did he give her money for a prom dress.

The testimony in the trial is set to resume at 9:30 a.m. on Monday.

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