Airline pilot guilty of killing three neighbors in Kentucky

Published 5:03 am Friday, June 18, 2021

A jury has convicted a former commercial airline pilot of killing three of his neighbors in western Kentucky.

Christian R. Martin, 53, was found guilty on Wednesday of murder, arson, attempted arson, burglary and tampering with physical evidence, said Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, whose office brought the case to trial after his predecessor, now-Gov. Andy Beshear, appointed a special prosecutor.

Martin, who flew for an American Airlines subsidiary, 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.
Police said Calvin Phillips, 59, was found shot to death in the cellar of his home. The bodies of Pamela Phillips, 58, and Dansereau, 63, were found a few miles away in a cornfield inside her burned car.

Martin faces 20 years to life without parole in the sentencing phase of his trial, which began Thursday, the Courier Journal reported.

Special prosecutor Barbara Whaley said during the two-week trial that 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, news outlets reported. His wife and Dansereau were 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.

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 pointing to his client could have been planted.

Martin was convicted by the military court of mishandling classified information and assault on a child, Cameron said. He was discharged from the military and sentenced to 90 days in jail.