LOGAN – In a somewhat unexpected end to a controversial court case, a 35-year-old Marietta woman who was arrested a year ago after she refused to mask up at a middle school football game in Logan opted to plead no contest Tuesday to the charges she was facing.
At a pre-trial hearing in Hocking County Municipal Court, in which a tearful Alecia D. Kitts submitted her plea to charges of criminal trespass and resisting arrest, appointed Judge Michael T. Brandt fined her $350 plus court costs, for a total penalty of $850.55.
Kitts’ case had looked at one time as though it might serve as the basis for a legal challenge to COVID-related mask mandates. Following her widely publicized arrest a Columbus-based legal activist group, the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, offered to handle her defense, and suggested it planned to argue her innocence on constitutional grounds. After adverse decisions by the judge on some defense motions prompted the Center’s director to withdraw as Kitts’ defense counsel, however, she was facing the prospect of a garden-variety misdemeanor trial. At Tuesday’s hearing, she told Brandt in essence that she just wanted to get the year-old case over with.
“I was wondering if I could plead no contest and pay a fine,” she told the judge.
The judge explained that with such a plea, he would listen to the state’s recitation of the facts in the case, and if he believed them, would be obligated to find her guilty.
Logan city Law Director Abigail Saving told the judge she would have no objection to Kitts’ pleading no contest, and would be willing to make no recommendation on sentencing.
Outside the courtroom after the hearing Kitts, sobbing, said she decided to plead because “everyone just gave up on me” and “I just can’t take it no more.” She said that while she had retained a new attorney after 1851 Center Director Maurice Thompson withdrew from her case, she had made the decision to plead on her own.
“(My new attorney) doesn’t even know I did this,” she said. “Nobody wants to stand up and represent me, and fight for what’s right.”
Kitts continued to insist that the arresting officer, Chris Smith of the Logan Police, misrepresented the facts of her arrest in his police report. In previous statements to The Logan Daily News, she has denied Smith’s assertion in his report that when he told her she would have to exit the stadium if she would not don a mask, she refused to leave.
Capt. Ryan Gabriel of the LPD responded that the city was well prepared to make a case for Kitts’ guilt had she gone to trial.
“We had a list of witnesses ready to testify, to back up the officer’s account,” Gabriel said. “(Kitts) pled no contest – we’re just going to let that speak for itself.”
Kitts also said that Tuesday would be her last visit to Logan. “I’ll never be back in this town, ever,” she vowed.
Kitts’ arrest got widespread publicity after a video of it went viral on social media. Smith used his taser on Kitts to subdue her after she reportedly refused multiple times to put her hands behind her back.
The incident made national news including coverage in the Washington Post, and stirred much controversy and comment from people including Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and other politicians.
Kitts’ mother, Yvonne Fox, had been charged with obstructing official business, for allegedly placing a hand on the arresting officer during her daughter’s arrest. Fox pled guilty Tuesday to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct, a minor misdemeanor, and was fined $100.
Tuesday’s hearing was supposed to be the final pre-trial before Kitts’ scheduled jury trial – which had been postponed twice – took place starting Sept. 28.
After Kitts confirmed that she had hired a new attorney, however, Judge Brandt had indicated that he was willing to postpone her trial one more time, and set it for December, but that there would be absolutely no more delays.
“There will never be another continuance – ever,” Brandt declared.
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