MARYVILLE (WATE) – Thursday afternoon, Brian Stalans’, a man with ties to the Tri-Cities accused of killing a Maryville, TN police officer appeared before a judge for a preliminary hearing.
As a result, Brian Stalans’ case was bound over to the grand jury and his bond raised from $1 million to $2.7 million.
Stalans, 44, faces charges for criminal homicide and aggravated assault. Police Officer Kenneth Moats died after reporting to a domestic call.
The Blount County Sheriff’s Office said they believe Stalans was setting up law enforcement for an ambush. Investigators found a letter in his house in which he blamed a family member and the Blount County Sheriff’s Office for his problems.
Stalans’ father Kenneth testified he and his son had an argument on the morning of August 25, which was also Brian Stalans’ birthday. Kenneth Stalans said his son was angry about his mother’s health was being handled.
Kenneth Stalans said his son started chest bumping him and threatening him, so he called police. His father said that he didn’t want to press charges. He only wanted the violence to stop.
Later, the father got a call from Brian’s girlfriend warning him that he had a gun. Kenneth Stalans called 911 again and law enforcement arrived.
Officer Kenny Moats’ partner on the Drug Task Force then took the stand. Blount County Deputy David Mendez said they were not dispatched to the scene, but heard the call about a domestic incident and a subject with a gun. Mendez thought since they were in an unmarked car, they could check out the scene for the responding officers.
Mendez said he and Moats put on bullet proof vests, which identified them as members of the Drug Task Force. He and Moats then worked to get Brian Stalans’ father out of harm’s way. They then planned to keep an eye on the house and garage and relay information to the responding officers.
Mendez then learned the shooter was coming toward them and saw Stalans in the middle of a field, holding a gun to his own head. He then began pointing the gun toward Mendez, so Mendez fired at Stalans. Stalans tossed the gun and Mendez went toward him and took him into custody.
Brian Stalans was in the garage around 40 to 50 yards from police and his father began approaching the police SUV. Brian Stalans began firing shots, hitting Moats in the neck.
Through tears, Mendez testified that Stalans was positioned with a gun. He then heard the first shot and saw Moats’ radio fly and hit the ground. He then moved Moats and saw he had been shot. As the shots continued, he stayed behind the vehicle and talked to Moats, consoling him.
Margaret Patridge, Brian Stalans’ girlfriend also took the stand, describing what happened during the day of the shooting. She says Brian Stalans was in an argument with his dad, police were called, stayed for about 20 minutes and left.
Patridge said Brian Stalans and his father had an argument over his drinking. She said he drank because of back pain, but they had an argument about his drinking and he had scaled back. She says he didn’t have a temper, and they didn’t start fighting until after the drinking began.
Later, Patridge said she saw Brian Stalans scrunched down with a .45 handgun pointing a gun at his father’s house. She says he fired a shot and she called Stalans’ father. Next, she says she went to the Alcoa Police Department to file a police a report about the incident. She says she didn’t know about the shooting that followed.
Patridge said she was afraid for herself and her two-year-old son Jacob that day.
Early Thursday afternoon, the crime scene investigator to the stand. He went over the crime scene, describing a birthday card with a suicide note from Brain Stalans that day. In the note, Stalans says he was taking his dad and some of the Blount County Sheriff’s Office with him in the suicide note.
Stalans is represented by a public defender, attorney Mack Garner. Garner said it is a tough case with no positive outcome.
“Officers do a great job and by and large they face danger and difficulties everyday and it’s a tough job and you hate to see anything like this happen,” said Garner. “It’s my job to represent defendants as best I can.”
Garner said if a grand jury indicts Stalans the state can decide to seek the death penalty. However, he said if there is a plea agreement it will happen before the grand jury meets.
The district attorney’s office said they are “focused on Officer Moats and his brothers and sisters in blue and won’t make any comment at this time out of respect for them.”
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