By Court TV
PEMBROKE, Ky. — After finding Christian “Kit” Martin guilty of all charges, a jury recommended a sentence of life without the benefit of probation or parole. The former pilot was found guilty on three counts of murder, two counts of 1st-degree burglary, arson, criminal attempt to commit arson, and three counts of tampering with evidence. At Martin’s penalty phase sentencing on September 2, 2021, the judge ruled for the jury’s recommendation, sentencing Martin to life in prison without parole.
During an exclusive interview with Court TV, Martin still maintains his innocence.
Doug Moore, Matin’s defense attorney, spoke at length with Court TV about plans to appeal the ruling.
LAST UPDATE 6/14/21
PEMBROKE, Ky. — A former commercial pilot and US Army major is accused in the deaths of three neighbors in a sordid web of allegations including infidelity, murder and political opportunism.
Christian “Kit” Martin is accused of murdering Edward Dansereau and married couple Calvin and Pamela Phillips on November 18, 2015. The charred remains of Pamela Phillips and Dansereau were found in a burnt car in a field in Pembroke. The car was traced to the Phillips’ home, where investigators found another crime scene – Calvin Phillips dead from multiple gunshot wounds.
The triple-slayings occurred just weeks before Calvin Phillips was scheduled to testify in Martin’s military court-martial. The case was based on accusations of sexual abuse from Martin’s estranged wife and that he allegedly mishandled classified military information. In turn, Martin accused her of having an affair with Calvin Phillips and fabricating the abuse the claims. Martin also claimed she was married to another man during their union.
The triple murder case went cold until 2017 when the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office took over the case after talking to the Phillips family. Investigators say it was the family that provided them with a spent shell casing from the couple’s home, that according to grand jury testimony, transformed Martin from a person of interest to a suspect.
The forensic analysis reportedly shows the casing was fired from a .45 caliber Glock belonging to Martin. Cellphone tower evidence also reportedly places Martin in the area where the remains of Pamela Phillips and Dansereau were found.
Martin was arrested at Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport on May 10, 2019, the same day a Christian County grand jury indicted him on 10 counts. He’s charged with complicity in those crimes, including murder, because investigators say they can’t prove for certain that he himself carried out the killings.
Martin claims he’s innocent, saying he was home with his fiancée the day the killings occurred. His defense team argues the grand jury indicted him based on misleading testimony from an investigator about the cellphone tower evidence.
They also claim Martin was targeted by an attorney general seeking to bolster his tough-on-crime credentials as part of his gubernatorial campaign. That candidate, Andy Beshear, is now Kentucky’s governor, and the case is being tried by the Office of Attorney General Daniel Cameron, best known for his handling of the police-involved shooting death of Breonna Taylor.
Meanwhile, Martin has become a cause célèbre among men’s rights groups and others who believe he is being railroaded by the state of Kentucky after being the target of a “Pentagon sexual assault witch hunt” based on frivolous accusations.
DAILY TRIAL UPDATES
DAY 10 – 6/17/21
- In the penalty phase of KY v. Christian Martin, the jury recommended a sentence of life without the benefit of probation of parole.
- A sentencing date is set for September 2
- WATCH: 6/17/21 KY v. Martin: Jury Reaches Verdict in Penalty Phase
DAY 9 – 6/16/21
- Both sides deliver their closing arguments
- The jury finds Martin guilty on all charges
DAY 8 – 6/15/21
- The defendant takes the stand and denies he killed his neighbors
- Martin breaks down talking about his fiancé
- Defense firearms expert testified the bullets that killed CP were likely not fired from the defendant’s Glock
- A deputy who responded to the domestic call made by the defendant and Joan Harmon did not arrest Martin because he saw no evidence of violence
- WATCH: 6/15/21 Ex-Pilot Charged in Triple Murder: Day 8
DAY 7 – 6/14/21
- Def’s daughter takes the witness stand to testify that her stepmother threatened to destroy her dad after he said he wanted a divorce
- A contractor who remodeled the defendant’s house testified he saw Joan Harmon with a gun that looked like a Glock tucked in her waistband.
- A restaurant manager where Joan Harmon worked testified she was happy excited about the murders.
- A cell phone expert testifies claims that Martin’s phone and PP”s phone were traveling in the same direction are wrong.
- WATCH: 6/14/21 Ex-Pilot Charged in Triple Murder: Day 7
DAY 6 – 6/10/21
- State of Kentucky rests its case against Christian Martin after 36 witnesses and 6 days of testimony
- State firearms experts can’t match the bullet fragments recovered from the victims to the defendant’s guns.
- Medical Examiner testifies Calvin Phillips died of multiple gunshot wounds
- WATCH: 6/10/21 Ex-Pilot Charged in Triple Murder: Day 6
DAY 5 – 6/9/21
- A Forensic pathologist for the State examined the burned remains of Pam Phillips and Ed Dansereau and concluded they died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds
- Blood, Hair and swabs taken found the crime scenes could not be linked to the defendant
- A friend was on the phone with Pam when she heard her make a startled scream. Unsettled by the call she went to her house to check – found no sign of Pam but noticed her car had been moved
- WATCH: 6/9/21 Ex-Pilot Charged in Triple Murder: Day 5
DAY 4 – 6/8/21
- Defendant’s fiancé, and her children take the witness to alibi their stepdad
- Several of friends of the Phillips testify they expressed fear that Martin would kill them
- Prosecutors lay out timeline of defendant’s whereabouts on Nov. 18
- WATCH: 6/8/21 Ex-Pilot Charged in Triple Murder: Day 4
DAY 3 – 6/7/21
- Judge permits Joan Harmon and her son Justin Elijah to invoke 5th amendment right against self-incrimination
- Detective who processed crime scene collects cell phone belonging to murder victim Pam Phillips. AT & T store security video concludes Joan Harmon turned in phone
- Court Martial prosecutor says Calvin Phillips was set to testify against the defendant before he was murdered. Military charges ended defendant’s career
- Crime scene photos reveal position of Calvin Phillips’s body. His body was found in the cellar, the cellar doors shut and hidden by a doggie bed
- WATCH: 6/7/21 Ex-Pilot Charged in Triple Murder: Day 3
DAY 2 – 6/4/21
- Defense lawyer Tom Griffiths puts one of the lead investigators on the spot about his missteps in the case, specifically:
- Spoiled arson evidence
- Misleading grand jury testimony about cellphone evidence
- Matt Phillips, son of victims Pam and Cal Phillips, gives emotional testimony describing how he learned about his parents’ death
- Matt Phillips adds more detail to his aunt Diana Phillips’ testimony about her discovery of two key pieces of evidence in the Phillips’ home:
- Dog tag belonging to Kit Martin found on shelf in the Phillips’ mudroom on 11/27/15
- .45 shell casing found on back porch near cellar door in April 2016
- Ed Dansereau’s longtime companion/girlfriend gives illuminating testimony about his personality and timeline of her last interactions with him
- WATCH: 6/4/21 Ex-Pilot Charged in Triple Murder: Day 2
DAY 1 – 6/3/21
- Both sides deliver opening statements
- Diana Phillips, the sister of victim Calvin Phillips, describes allegedly stumbling upon the only pieces of physical evidence potentially tying the defendant to the murders:
- The .45 caliber shell casing that a firearms expert claims was fired from Christian Martin’s gun on the back porch
- The defendant’s dog tag in a closet
- Judge rules jury can hear victims’ cautionary statements about the defendant
- Judge won’t let jury hear about defendant’s ex-wife’s bigamy charge because it was dismissed on June 1 after she completed pretrial diversion
Legal correspondent Julia Jenaé, Senior Director Grace Wong and field producers Joy Nakrin and Emanuella Grinberg contributed to this report.