Kenneth C. Kitch of Yellville waived arraignment and entered a not guilty plea in Baxter County Circuit Court Thursday to charges stemming from the stabbing death of 20-year-old Roy Lee Hogans during two fights involving the men late last year.
The 45-year-old Kitch faces charges of hindering apprehension, tampering with physical evidence and obstructing governmental operations.
According to investigative reports, Hogans lived in Strawberry in Lawrence County and had been in this area for only two weeks prior to his death.
In May of this year, 14th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney Ron Kincade ruled Hogans' death justifiable homicide. It was indicated at the time of the ruling, however, that Kitch might face charges in connection with his conduct during the investigation.
The incident occurred December 5 last year at a residence located on Highway 178 West in Midway. According to investigative reports, Kitch's daughter, Kelsey Frost, and Hogans became involved in a physical altercation and Kitch attempted to separate the two. After the first fight ended, a second one broke out between Kitch and Hogans and Hogans was reportedly stabbed three times in the chest with his own knife.
During the course of the investigation, Kitch changed his account of what had taken place several different times, professing at one point that he did not know how Hogans was stabbed or what he was stabbed with.
While the investigation was launched December 5, it was not until December 14, during a fifth interview, that Kitch gave a written statement in which he admitted that during the fight with Hogans, he saw that Hogans had pulled a knife and had it in his right hand. He said he had grabbed Hogans' hand in an attempt to push the knife away from himself and toward Hogans. Kitch told officers he and Hogans were finally separated and he saw the knife lying on the ground, picked it up, closed it, went into the house and put the knife on the kitchen bar. He continued to insist that he did not know that Hogans had been stabbed and thought the blood on the knife was his own, not Hogans'.
The knife was found in a trash container in the kitchen, but Kitch denied putting it there. He told investigators that he had tossed the knife onto the kitchen bar and that it might have slid off the counter into the trash container.
Kitch told officers that at the time of the fights, he had consumed approximately four drinks containing whiskey and Coke.
Kitch's trial is tentatively set for March 10-11 and he is due to reappear in Circuit County December 12.
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