Pembroke triple homicide suspect's attorney withdraws

Avery Seeger / Kentucky New Era

Christian Martin enters the Judge John Atkins' courtroom Wednesday morning for his first pretrial conference in his case. Martin is accused of the 2015 triple homicide in Pembroke.

The man charged in the 2015 triple homicide in Pembroke, Christian Martin, 51, appeared in court for his first pretrial conference Wednesday morning before Judge John Atkins to hear a motion for his defense attorney to withdraw from the case.

Just as his last appearance, Martin entered the room stoic and expressionless before standing at the bench with his defense attorney Michael Thompson.

Thompson made a motion to withdraw from representing Martin in the case, explaining that Martin is indigent and did not have adequate funds to afford Thompson's defense.

Before Atkins gave his ruling on the motion, Atkins asked Attorney General Special Prosecutors John Heck and Barbara Whaley if they opposed the motion. Having not seen her bank statements as Thompson said to have seen, the prosecution said they don't have grounds to deny the motion.

Atkins granted the motion, allowing the Department of Public Advocacy to pick up Martin's case. DPA Defense Attorney Eric Bearden is now representing Martin moving forward. However, Atkins explained that should Martin be able to afford a private attorney, he may hire one at any time.

Following Thompson's withdrawal, the prosecution explained that Bearden has already received roughly half of the evidence the prosecution has at this time. The first half of evidence contains the police reports and interviews that were gathered during the initial investigation.

The second half of evidence that is currently being prepared for Bearden largely contains phone and social media records.

Prosecution also explained that the forensic testing that was done during the initial investigation is also done and ready for review. However, Heck shared that there will likely be new forensic testing will be done before the case goes to trial.

With those things in mind, the prosecution and Atkins agreed to schedule the next pretrial conference out for roughly eight weeks, allowing the prosecution to organize a large amount of phone and social media records to be sent to Bearden. The two month gap will also allow Bearden more time to review the evidence.

Atkins, prosecution and defense all expect a jury trial date to be scheduled at the next court appearance on Sept. 18.

Martin was arraigned on his charges May 22 and entered a not guilty plea.

Martin was indicted May 10, on three counts of murder; one count of arson; one count of attempted arson, burglary in the first degree; and three counts of tampering with physical evidence, according to Martin's indictment.

Martin was arrested the morning of May 11, at the Louisville International Airport, with help from the United States Marshals Service, Christian County Sheriff's Office and Louisville Metro Police.

The case was investigated by the Kentucky State Police and the Christian County Sheriff's Office.

The indictment stems from events that occurred on or about Nov. 18, 2015, in which Calvin Phillips was found shot to death in his home in Pembroke. The bodies of his wife, Pamela Phillips, and their neighbor, Edward Dansereau, were found a few miles away in a corn field in a burned up car owned by Mrs. Phillips.

According to court documents, Martin allegedly shot and killed Calvin Phillips with a .45 caliber pistol and shot Pamela Phillips and Dansereau with a .22 caliber firearm.

The documents also added that he allegedly set fire to Mrs. Phillips' car while she and Dansereau were inside and attempted to set fire to the Phillips' home with Mr. Phillips' body inside.

The indictment states that Martin is a former military officer, and Calvin Phillips was set to testify against Martin in a military court martial at the time of the murder.

Martin is currently being held at the Christian County Jail. Adkins has ordered Martin be held without bond.

Martin is set to appear at 11 a.m. Sept. 18 for another pretrial conference.

Reach Avery Seeger at 270-887-3236 or aseeger@kentuckynewera.com. Follow him on Twitter @AveryNewEra.

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