Allen, his voice wavering with emotion, ordered the bond after a motion by Kent Varney, defense attorney, to set a bond that would allow the Pittses to be released from jail.
Before ordering the bond, Allen talked about the severity of the charges in relation to other cases that he has dealt with during his career in the justice system, including the case of William “Oakie” Bevins, who shot and killed five people in Allen in 1982.
“I’ve been involved in numerous murder cases as a prosecutor, including the worst murder this county has ever seen, the Oakie Bevins case,” Allen said, and then paused. “This is the worst case I have ever seen.”
Michael and Martha Pitts appeared in court together for the preliminary hearing, sitting side-by-side as Kentucky State Police Trooper Richard Russell gave his testimony in regards to the case, including the results of a medical examination of an alleged female victim under the age of 6.
Russell told the court that the medical examination revealed notches and scarring of the female child’s genitals that would be consistent with the allegations of sexual abuse over a long period of time. Russell said that the examination also revealed hemorrhoids, which are very rare in a child of that age.
The male child is scheduled to also undergo a medical examination.
Russell’s testimony included the alleged acts of sexual abuse against one male child, between the ages of 6 and 8 at the time of the alleged abuse, and one female child, between the ages of 4 and 6.
The two alleged child victims told Russell that they had been forced to have sexual intercourse with each other and two other children, and were made to take part in a variety of other sexual acts involving Michael and Martha Pitts.
According to Russell, the Pittses were notified by the mother of Michael Pitts that police had arrived at their home and that they left their places of employment and were not able to be located for two days before being arrested at the law office of Stephen Owens in Pikeville.
The original investigation of the case started last June, with the Kentucky State Police responding to a claim that the children had been forced to have sex with each other and with two other children. According to Russell, Martha Pitts told Gary Sykes, with the Kentucky State Police, that the incidents could not have happened that many times. Russell said that Martha Pitts did not deny the allegations about the children having sex, just that it couldn’t have occurred as many times as they had been told.
Varney questioned Russell about the children’s stories, asking the officer if they had been recorded. Russell said that he took notes, but no recording was made.
“We don’t know that they actually said these things because you didn’t record it,” Varney said.
Floyd County Attorney Keith Bartley said that he didn’t think the fact that the interviews of the children with Russell weren’t recorded would hurt the case, and that all forensic interviews with the children were recorded.
“I don’t think that’s a major point at all,” Bartley said. “It’s extremely difficult to make children comfortable. When you are a big police officer with a badge and a gun, it’s even tougher for them to get comfortable with you. If you throw a tape recorder out on the table, it might eliminate the possibility that they will talk to you altogether.”
Police removed potential evidence from the Pittses’ home, including pillow cases and bed sheets, which will be tested for DNA material.
After hearing all of Russell’s testimony, it was time for the judge to make his ruling if there was enough cause to send the case to a grand jury to consider for possible indictments on the charges. However, racked with emotion, Allen ordered that court be adjourned after setting the $5 million cash bond for each of defendants. Allen was reminded by the attorneys that he still had another decision to make in regards to the case. Allen then called court back in session and waived the case against Michael and Martha Pitts to the grand jury.
“If a judge shows that kind of emotional reaction to a probable cause hearing, imagine what kind of impact a full-blown trial would have on a jury if they had the same reaction,” Bartley said. “They would ask for the death penalty.”
After court, Bartley spoke about Judge Allen’s emotional reaction to the case.
“When you hear cases like this that involve kids, if you have any heart in you at all it rips it out,” Bartley said. “I think the judge has grandkids around the same age. It’s tough. I don’t care if you are a prosecutor or a judge.”
Bartley also spoke about the judge’s statement that the case was worse than all of the murder cases that he has dealt with.
“The alleged facts in this case are tragic in my opinion,” Bartley said. “At least two children, maybe more, will have to deal with the emotional scars for as long as they live. That’s the difference between this case and murder cases. In murder cases, the pain and suffering stops for the victims.”
According to Bartley, there is a good chance that more sexual abuse charges involving two other children could be filed against the Pittses in the near future.
Michael and Martha Pitts will remain lodged in the Floyd County Detention Center. Commonwealth’s Attorney Brent Turner said that he hopes to have Russell present his evidence and testimony of the case to the grand jury in the next couple of weeks.