Mistrial ruling issued in the rape case of Tracy Gist

BEDFORD – Lawrence County Superior Court Judge John Plummer III on Thursday issued a mistrial in the rape case of 35-year-old Tracy Gist.

In his order, Plummer wrote that Lawrence County Chief Public Defender Bruce Andis testified under oath, that he “violated the Rules of Professional Responsibility for failing to provide effective representation to the defendant.” 

On January 13, 2022, the State appeared by its Deputy Prosecutor Lisa Kempf and Deputy Prosecutor Ryne Koucouthakis. Gist was present with his counsel Bruce Andis for the third day of the jury trial.

Outside the presence of the jury, Andis made an oral motion to withdraw his appearance.

Witnesses were sworn and testimonies were heard, along with arguments.

Andis told the court he failed to take any depositions in the case and failed to investigate or attempt to interview witnesses to the crime.

He testified that he failed to make himself available to speak to Gist in the days and weeks leading up to the trial to address the Gist’s concerns about witnesses and other matters that may have been relevant to the defense.

Andis also failed to file a witness and exhibit list, which, along with his sworn testimony, indicated that the defense counsel failed to recognize that there were witnesses that may have been favorable to Gist’s case that was going to be called to the stand during the trial.

He testified that he has failed to “zealously represent” the Gist as required under the Rules of Professional Responsibility

Judge Plummer then declared a mistrial and appointed special public defender, Denise Turner, to represent Gist.

A pretrial conference was set for February 2, 2022, at 9:00 a.m.

Police arrested Tracy Gist, of Bedford, at 11:30 p.m. on January 22, 2020. Gist also faces a charge of being a habitual offender.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed by Bedford Police Department Detective Kevin Jones, the incident happened during the early morning hours of December 8, 2019.

At 1:55 a.m. officers went to Shorty’s Den on 7th Street after a report of a sexual assault.

When police arrived they found Gist in the parking lot. He told the police he didn’t initially believe anything had happened but thought maybe something did because the victim’s friend called the police.

The victim who was intoxicated told police she was unsure what happened and didn’t know what to do. Police advised the victim about her options.

On December 17th the woman went to the Bedford Police Department wanting to file charges against Gist.

The woman told police she was at Shorty’s and she was very intoxicated and had to be carried out of the bar. Gist helped the woman get outside. Gist placed her face down in the rear driver’s side of the victim’s friend’s car. The friend said she had left the woman in the vehicle but returned to check on her about 15 minutes later and found Gist with his pants down raping her friend. The friend confronted Gist who pulled up his pants and left. The victim was found partially unclothed.

The victim could not remember what happened because of her level of intoxication.