Locals charged for dealing drugs

By Abby Morris
d Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com

   A man and woman who reportedly stole a vehicle from a Carter County resident and were then later found attempting to complete a drug deal in Jonesborough were arrested on Thursday.
   Kevin Darrell Fitts, 33, and Tina Danielle Espinoza, 31, no addresses available, were taken into custody at a residence in the Milligan community by officers of the Carter County Sheriff's Department and officers of the Jonesborough Police Department. Both face charges in Carter County and the city of Jonesborough.
   Fitts has been charged with theft over $1,000 and evading arrest in Carter County. He was charged with the conspiracy to distribute Schedule II narcotics (crack cocaine), violation of the habitual motor vehicle offender law, felony evading arrest and felony reckless endangerment in Jonesborough. He is currently being held in the Carter County Jail on a $5,000 corporate bond.
   According to Officer Mike Lewis with the Jonesborough Police Department, that agency has placed a hold on Fitts, meaning that he will not be released from the Carter County Jail, but, rather, he will be transferred to the Washington County Detention Center to face the charges from Jonesborough.
   Espinoza has been charged with theft over $1,000 in Carter County and the conspiracy to distribute Schedule II narcotics (crack cocaine) in Jonesborough. She is currently being held in the Carter County Jail on a $3,500 corporate bond. According to Lewis, a hold has been placed on her release as well.
   The incident that led to the arrest of Fitts and Espinoza began on July 23 when informants working with the Jonesborough Police Department had scheduled a controlled narcotics purchase from Fitts and Espinoza. Lewis stated that the informants had arranged for a scheduled time and location for the drug purchase and officers were waiting at the scene to purchase the narcotics and subsequently arrest the pair.
   As Fitts drove the vehicle to the location for the exchange, he apparently saw the officers and then attempted to flee the scene, at which time he nearly collided head on with the Chevrolet truck Lewis was driving. "He aimed to hit me head on," Lewis said.
   Officers began to pursue the vehicle which Fitts was driving and Espinoza was a passenger in but the pair was able to elude officers. Lewis stated that Fitts and Espinoza abandoned the truck they were in and officers recovered it.
   The pair then continued on foot to another location where they broke into a vehicle, stealing some property from it and then leaving that scene. "Then they stole a 2004 Grand Prix and drove it to the residence in Carter County (where they were arrested)," Lewis said.
   After the purit, officers were able to gain intelligence on the location of Fitts and Espinoza. During the investigation, Lewis checked the registration on the truck which Fitts and Espinoza had abandoned and discovered that it had been reported stolen in Carter County.
   According to a report by Carter County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Audrey Covington, the truck was reported stolen on July 21 by Randy Phillips of 154 Milligan St. "Mike Lewis with the Jonesborough Police Department called and advised that late last night (July 23) he, along with other officers, were in an altercation with a Chevy truck that had been reported stolen from our jurisdiction," Covington states in her report. "Lewis advised that the driver of the truck almost struck him; however, he was able to get a visible look at the driver and the passenger of the truck."
   Lewis informed Covington of the intelligence he had gained and the possible location of Fitts and Espinoza, which fell in the Carter County Sheriff's Department's jurisdiction.
   "Deputy Jeff Markland, Inv. (Laverne) Julian, Mike Lewis, another Jonesborough officer and I went to 120 Winchester St., No. 4 in Hidden Oaks, the possible whereabouts of the subjects," Covington states in her report. "Upon our arrival, we met with a Mindy Davis who advised that the defendant and his girlfriend, Tina Espinoza, were in her apartment.
   "Once inside the apartment, Lewis positively identified Kevin Fitts as the driver of the stolen truck and Tina Espinoza as the passenger in the stolen truck."
   At that time, officers placed Fitts and Espinoza under arrest.
   "Kevin Fitts was handcuffed and placed outside the apartment in a sitting position as Deputy Markland stood by him. As officers were attempting to gain information in the apartment, Deputy Markland yelled and said that Fitts was running," Covington states.
   According to reports, Fitts fled behind the apartment complex and into a thick briar patch. After the foot pursuit, Fitts was once again apprehended.
   Fitts and Espinoza were then transported to the Carter County Jail.