Grand jury opts not to indict in Jett shooting

Friday, July 24, 2009

In a rare chain of events, the Marshall County grand jury on Wednesday was asked if further law enforcement action is needed in a shooting death and the 12-member panel took no action.

On May 23, Jeffery Sturgill, 51, of Pear Tree Apartments, shot Michael Jett, 53, also of Pear Tree Apartments, Lewisburg Police said, calling Sturgill the victim of a home invasion and noting that Jett had a mask, a knife and was dressed in coveralls.

Jett's daughter, Tessa Jett, has challenged the police investigation and said she wanted a jury to consider the case.

The police chief, his detective sergeant and the reporting officer have explained they believe Jett used a knife to force his way in and that once he and Sturgill were in Sturgill's apartment, the home invasion victim grabbed a gun behind his computer screen, shot Jett, and called 911. Jett was dying as Sturgill pleaded to the dispatcher to make responding officers hurry.

Having made it clear that she wanted "retribution" for her father's death, Tessa Jett has been persistent about 12 jurors considering the circumstances. District Attorney Chuck Crawford granted her wish for that review.

"The case was presented for the purpose of seeing whether the grand jury wanted to pursue further investigation," Crawford said.

"Their decision was to take no further action at this time," the district attorney said within a few hours of the grand jury's monthly report to Circuit Court Judge Robert Crigler.

There was no mention to Crigler of the grand jury's deliberations about Jett's death and Sturgill's decision to pull the trigger of a semi-automatic pistol.

"Of course, what was presented, and the grand jury's deliberations fall under the cloak of secrecy covering grand juries, so I can make no further comment on this particular case," Crawford said.

Several hours earlier, Tessa Jett's sister, Tracy Jett of Columbia, and her cousin, Alisha Jett, spoke at the Marshall County Courthouse gazebo as they waited for Tessa Jett to finish testifying before the grand jury.

Within an hour, Tessa Jett was seen seated on a hall bench just outside the jury room. She was bent over, holding her face in her hands, and seemed too distraught to speak.

"These two girls are torn to pieces," Alisha Jett said of her cousins.

"I can't explain it," Alisha Jett said. "He (Mike Jett) was their life and they were his; them and his grandkids."

Mike Jett was the brother of Ricky Jett, Alisha Jett's father.

"I don't think the grand jury would be looking at it if there weren't something," Tracy Jett said.

She and her cousin agreed that they didn't expect Sturgill to be charged with premeditated murder, but felt that some lesser offense might be brought against him.

Tessa Jett was contacted Wednesday evening, but she was not able to comment at that time.

Such a presentation to the grand jury without charges filed, or even a report that no bill of indictment would be issued, is rare, Crawford said.