BRISTOL, TN (WJHL) – A trial of a man accused in the shooting deaths of three family members was stopped Monday before a jury was seated.
Attorneys for Robert Denton announced Monday afternoon that their client had discharged them from the case, effectively postponing the trial until the judge can appoint a new defense.
The shootings took place on Henson Road just outside Bristol, Tenn., in August 2015. Denton was accused of shooting to death his mother, grandmother, and stepfather. Six children were believed to have seen the killings.
Denton’s trial began Monday in Sullivan County Criminal Court, but the announcement about his defense team came in mid-afternoon before the jury had been seated.
District Attorney General Barry Staubus said after the announcement that he was surprised and disappointed that the trial will be delayed.
Judge James Goodwin said in court after the announcement that this change in defense attorneys could cause the trial to be delayed a year.
Goodwin scheduled a hearing in Denton’s case for July 28 to appoint a new defense attorney.
News Channel 11 was there in October 2015 at Denton’s preliminary hearing where Denton listened as his grandfather gave emotional testimony of the day his family was killed.
His grandfather said he was working on a trailer near his home on August 29, when he said Denton came up to him and said to call 911, and left.
Rose said he immediately went to his home and walked in to find a horrifying scene in his kitchen. He said his six kids in all, were also in the kitchen — screaming.
Rose recounted he told them to wait in the bathroom and he said he then found his son-in-law shot on the porch, but still alive — he later died at the hospital.
Rose said he found his wife, shot in the face and dead in the kitchen.
According to a Sullivan County detective, the only child injured was a seven-year-old girl, she had to have surgery but she survived.
Prosecutors have said they are not seeking the death penalty for Denton.
News Channel 11 is in the courtroom tracking this story. Follow us on social media, online and be sure to watch us beginning on the news at 5:00 p.m for the very latest in this case.