Ties to Pembroke murder case: Mixed verdict in Martin court-martial

Law enforcement officers secure the residence of Christian “Kit” Martin in Pembroke in November following the discovery of three dead bodies in the house across the street and in a car found north of the city. Martin was found guilty on unrelated charged in a court-martial held at Fort Campbell last week.

A court-martialed Army major was found guilty of two counts of simple assault and two counts of mishandling classified information in a verdict that his attorney called “a full on victory” Friday at Fort Campbell.

In addition to those charges, Christian “Kit” Martin was also accused of sexual abuse and communicating a threat. He was found not guilty of those offenses.

According to court documents, Martin and his ex-wife, Joan A. Harmon, lived together as husband and wife for nearly 10 years at Martin’s home, 458 S. Main St. in Pembroke, before separating on, or about Sept. 5, 2012.

That house, along with others from Rhode Island to Germany, is where the alleged abuse against Martin’s then-wife and her children, ages 12, 15 and 19, reportedly occurred.

Harmon’s eldest son, Elijah, previously testified to Martin choking him until the point of blacking out and flogging him with “Roman whips.”

Photographs of the teen’s bruised back shown to members of the jury likely played a role in them finding Martin guilty, said James Phillips, one of Martin’s attorneys.

“They just couldn’t get around them,” Phillips said afterward. However, he compared the verdict to getting “kicked in the leg” while facing the threat of a “nuclear bomb.”

Harmon’s two daughters testified earlier in the week to having been abused by their step-father. However, there didn’t appear to be anything other than their testimony to corroborate those accusations.

Martin and Harmon’s dissolved marriage was thrust into the limelight after 59-year-old Calvin Lee Phillips was found Nov. 19 shot to death inside his home at 443 S. Main St., just a couple doors down from where Martin and Harmon lived.

He was slated to testify at Martin’s court-martial, though it is unclear for whom, as he was listed on both the prosecution’s and the defense’s witness lists.

Authorities found Calvin Phillips’ bullet-riddle body shortly after they traced the tags on a torched car with the charred remains of his wife, 58-year-old Pamela J. Phillips, and their friend, 63-year-old Ed Dansereau, inside. Dansereau was renting a home next door to Martin.

“Secrets, both personal and professional, created a facade,” military prosecutor Major Jacob D. Bashore said as began his closing arguments. That veil, he continued, was perforated only after Harmon decided she had enough of Martin and opted to leave him.

Bashore said the classified information Martin was found guilty of possessing accompanied the major in April 2010 on return from a tour in Iraq and included a “kill list” of those the military planned to eradicate, along with the names of the high-ranking officials that would have made the call.

The list and other documents were found on two laptop computers, two discs and a thumb drive, that were turned over to authorities by Harmon and Calvin Phillips.

Additional material was later turned in by Calvin Phillips’ sister, Diana Phillips, according to courtroom discussion.

The prosecution further claimed they knew the laptop belonged to Martin because it was labeled with a sticker with the major’s name on it, and because it was registered to his profile.

The files were downloaded April 6, 2008, while he was deployed overseas. Whether Martin came into possession of the documents intentionally or through carelessness made little difference to the prosecution, with Bashore saying there was no excuse.

While Martin previously had courier orders, they expired while he still had the files.

James Phillips, who along with Tucker Richardson, represented Martin.

“This family was built on a lie,” Phillips said in his closing arguments, eluding to apparent inconsistencies regarding Harmon’s past relationships, which likely included her being married to another man from Tennessee when she and Martin were wed.

Martin’s defense team argued Harmon was not a credible witness, and the prosecution opted to drop two additional sexual assault charges levied by her earlier in the week.

The move effectively ensured she would avoid cross-examination on the stand with court documents suggesting Harmon hasn’t been entirely truthful.

Sentencing deliberations are set to begin at 8 a.m. today.

Reach Jacob Thomas at 270-887-3240 or jthomas@kentuckynewera.com.

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