Man convicted in deadly hit-and-run begins appeal process

Man convicted in deadly hit-and-run begins appeal process

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Curtis Harper enters the courtroom for the hearing. Curtis Harper enters the courtroom for the hearing.

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The man convicted in a deadly hit-and-run returned to court Tuesday to begin the appeal of his conviction.

Curtis Scott Harper was sentenced in June to 30 years in prison for hitting and killing Chasity Thornell, her unborn child, and Nelzon Soto as he drove on Washington Pike last year.

The victims' families were also in the courtroom, along with Harper's parents.

Thornell's mother, Stephanie Thornell, says she did not think she would have to see Harper for many more years.

"I had just hoped that this was all over with and that we were going to move on," she said. "I didn't expect to be back in the courtroom this quickly."

Stephanie Thornell said she is not looking forward to a lengthy appeals process.

"I just hope that it doesn't happen," Thornell said. "I can't imagine he would get less time or a new trial for that matter."

"I wish that he would just serve his time and let us have our peace and move on," she added.

Thornell said hearing and seeing Harper had very little emotional affect on her.

"I guess I'm kind of numb at this point," she said. "I don't have many feelings about him at all right now."

The Soto family did not want to make a comment Tuesday.

Attorney James Price stepped down as Harper's counsel and attorney Alex Little from Nashville will now handle Harper's appeal.

Little has 120 days from the sentencing date of June 26 to file a motion to reduce Harper's sentence.

The next court date will be on December 13. By that time Little is expected to have filed an amended motion for a new trial.

After asking him a couple questions Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz determined Harper was indigent. It was the only time Harper spoke in court.

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