Trial begins for pilot charged in triple slaying in Kentucky

June 4, 2021 GMT

ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (AP) — Jurors heard conflicting details of a triple slaying in western Kentucky as a trial began for a pilot charged in the fatal shootings.

Commercial airline pilot Christian R. Martin was arrested two years ago at the Louisville airport in the 2015 slayings of Calvin and Pamela Phillips and their neighbor, Edward Dansereau, in Pembroke.

In her opening statement on Thursday, special prosecutor Barbara Whaley said Martin had the motive to kill neighbor Calvin Phillips because he was set to testify in a court-martial that could have ended Martin’s Army career, the Courier Journal reported. Dansereau was in the wrong place at the wrong time, she said.

Whaley said a shell casing at the scene was shown to have been fired from a .45-caliber handgun found in a safe in Martin’s home across the street and that Martin’s dog tags were found in the couple’s home.

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Defense attorney Tom Griffiths said there’s forensic proof that the bullets that killed the victims did not come from his client’s gun. He also noted there were no eyewitnesses, no DNA and no fingerprints. He said evidence that indicates his client could have been planted.

Whaley said Martin wanted to get rid of Phillips because he was scheduled to testify at a court-martial in which Martin was charged with mishandling classified information and abusing his wife’s son.

The trial is expected to last a month.