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Trial set for Kingsport man accused in Waffle House shooting

Kacie Breeding • Oct 8, 2012 at 10:09 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — A Kingsport man accused of attempted murder and other charges in the New Year’s Day shooting of a Bristol woman in a Kingsport restaurant is set for trial with new defense counsel.

Michael Latrale Bunche, 24, last known address 3459 Bloomingdale Road, Kingsport, is charged with attempt to commit first-degree murder, theft over $500, and unlawful carrying or possession of a handgun in connection with the 4:15 a.m. shooting incident at Waffle House, 1668 E. Stone Drive.

Attorney Cliff Corker was appointed to represent Bunche on Friday in Sullivan County Criminal Court after Judge Robert Montgomery relieved the public defender’s office last month. The case was also set Friday for a March 4, 2013, trial.

According to Kingsport police, Kristen Smith, 30, was inside the restaurant with a friend at 4 a.m. Bunche, who is not believed to share any relationship with the victim, arrived alone.

Police said Bunche was sitting with three other individuals when the four began to argue. Bunche allegedly stood up and displayed a handgun, prompting employees to call police.

Bunche headed for the exit. As he passed where Smith was sitting, according to witness statements to police, he asked her, “What are you looking at?”

Police say Smith went to the restroom, and Bunche came back into the restaurant. An affidavit states he waited in an alcove, and when Smith exited the restroom he fired on her until the handgun was empty. Smith was shot multiple times, including once in the mouth.

Two Waffle House customers had Bunche restrained against a glass window when police arrived at the restaurant. Smith was transported to Holston Valley Medical Center and later to the University of Tennessee Medical Center.

Five days after the incident, the woman’s father said his daughter was in stable condition at the UT Medical Center.

The theft charge stems from a report out of Knoxville that the .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun Bunche allegedly used was stolen.

According to KPD Detective David Cole, Bunche has a felony identity theft conviction that bars him from owning or possessing firearms.

In a separate case, Bunche is charged with possession of a Schedule II controlled substance (cocaine), speeding, driving on a revoked or suspended license, and failure to provide evidence of financial responsibility in connection with a Nov. 3, 2011, traffic stop on Fort Henry Drive. In that incident, Bunche was allegedly traveling 61 mph in a 35 mph zone.

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