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A former commercial pilot accused in the triple murder of three of his neighbors more than half a decade ago has been convicted by a Kentucky jury this week.
Christian Richard Martin, 53, was found guilty in the 2015 slayings of his neighbors Edward Dansereau, 63; Calvin Phillips, 59; and Pamela Phillips, 58, following a two-week trial, officials announced this week.
The former American Airlines pilot was convicted of three counts of murder, three counts of tampering with physical evidence, two counts of first-degree burglary, first-degree arson, and attempted arson.
Dansereau and Pamela Phillips’ remains were found by law enforcement in a “burnt vehicle” in a field on Nov. 18, 2015. Calvin Phillips’ body was found a day later at his home in Pembroke, Kentucky. They’d both been fatally shot. For several years, the crime had gone unsolved.
“The families and the Pembroke community have endured a profound loss. While this verdict in no way eases that pain, I hope that they find some peace and comfort today," Attorney General Daniel Cameron said in a statement. "The Office of the Attorney General is committed to seeking justice for crime victims and their families.”
According to prosecutors, the shootings were fueled by Martin’s ongoing legal trouble within the military.
Calvin Phillips was reportedly preparing to testify against Martin, who was facing numerous charges in a military trial shortly before the triple homicide occurred. Martin was ultimately found guilty by the military court of child assault and mishandling classified information; the 30-year veteran was discharged and sentenced to 90 days in jail.
On May 10, 2019, Martin was indicted in three murders. A day later, the former pilot was dramatically arrested in front of an airplane full of passengers, shortly before a scheduled take-off from Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport.
"It was like something you would totally see in a movie," passenger Ashley Martin told Louisville’s WDRB at the time. She and her mother were about to board American Airlines Flight 5523 from Louisville to Charlotte when he was taken into custody.
Martin was later pictured in a sheriff’s booking photo wearing his pilot’s uniform. His trial had originally been set to take place in Christian County, but extensive pre-trial media coverage led a circuit judge to move proceedings to Hardin County.
Martin’s sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 2, according to USA Today. The jury has recommended he be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The attorney general previously opted not to seek the death penalty in the case.
Defense attorney Tom Griffiths indicated his legal team will appeal the ruling. Martin’s attorneys added he was a “military hero” who was unfairly characterized as a “monster” at trial.
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