MARYVILLE (WATE) – A man charged with first-degree murder of an East Tennessee officer pleaded guilty Monday.
Brian K. Stalans was charged with first-degree murder for the death of Maryville Police Officer Kenneth Moats, attempted murder, aggravated assault and unlawful carrying or possession of a weapon.
He will receive life in prison without the possibility of parole plus an additional 56 years to run consecutively.
“It’s one we spent a long time working out and one that Mr. Stalans thought about for a long time but I think it works out well for everybody. We don’t have to do a trial. I think that would have been extremely upsetting for everyone concerned,” said Stalans’ Public Defender Mack Garner.
Prosecutors detailed what happened when Moats was shot and killed last August while responding to a domestic call.
Stalans was threatening to kill his father along with members of the Blount County Sheriff’s Office. Officer Moats and Blount County Sheriff’s Deputy David Mendez responded to the call.
They were able to get Stalans father out of the home, but Stalans started firing at them.
“As he peered around the vehicle, a .45 calibur round was discharged from the defendant’s gun, striking Officer Moats in the neck just above his tactical vest,” District Attorney General Mike Flynn told the court.
Prosecutors said Stalans continued firing, but was eventually taken into custody unharmed.
He had written in a letter his desire to kill his father and members of the Blount County Sheriff’s Office.
After his plea was made, several impact statements from Moats’ family were read in court.
“The senseless, senseless act by a coward,” Moats’ mother Lisa Burns said. “That fateful day was the absolute worst nightmare a person can face. Nothing could have ever prepared me for the loss of my son, my only child.”
Moats’ wife, Britteni, had her statement read by an attorney.
“As I heard the words come from the chief that Kenny had been shot and he didn’t make it, I hit my knees and lost it,” he read. “You took away 15 years of my life when you chose to pull the trigger. You took everything from me and my kids. My kids no longer have their hero. They no longer have their protector, their role model, their friend, their daddy.”
Stalans also spoke up saying he has found forgiveness from God and plans to help reform other inmates while he is in prison.
“We lost a police officer, an advocate for the community, because of my actions. I will spend the rest of my days working for God,” he said.
Moats’ mother was not satisfied with his response.
“I never did hear two words that might have made an impact was ‘I’m sorry,'” she said. “It never leaves you. The thought of that day is always there. and still looking for my son to come through them doors.”
She said after court the sentence was also not what she was hoping for.
“I seek the death penalty for him, but it didn’t go that way and now I have to accept that,” she said.
She added the family is now hoping for legislation of some kind that will help keep officers safer in the line of duty.
The judge formally sentenced Stalans after the impact statements were read. The sentence took effect immediately.
Remembering fallen officer
Nearly a year since Maryville Police Officer Kenny Moats was killed in the line of duty, Blount County community members are still praying for his family.
Business owners that organized fundraisers just weeks after his death, today say, they are proud to live in a place that supports families, like Moats’.
“We still talk about it everyday, we have customers that talk about it everyday. We have people that mention it on our social media everyday.” said Brian Johnston, President of GoTeez.
The GoTeez company created a fundraising campaign through t-shirts that raised $83,000 for the Moats family. Another business, Moe’s Southwest Grill, held a fundraising campaign last year for the family too.
“When this one happened, we were able to see just how close knit this community is and just how much they truly care.” said Kara Moore, the Community Events Director.