UPDATE: Former pilot convicted in triple murder


Update from June 16, 2021:

ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (WTVQ) – A former commercial airline pilot was convicted Wednesday in Hardin Circuit Court in connection to a triple murder in 2015, according to the Office of Attorney General.

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Prosecutors say 53-year-old Christian R. Martin shot three of his neighbors to death on November 18, 2015.

The victims were identified as Edward Dansereau and Calvin and Pamela Phillips. Calvin Phillips was found dead in his Pembroke home on November 19, and the remains of Dansereau and Pamela Phillips were discovered in a burned vehicle in a field, according to prosecutors.

The murders took place two weeks before Calvin Phillips was scheduled to testify in Martin’s military court-martial trial on multiple charges. The military court eventually convicted Martin on one count of mishandling classified information and one of assault on a child. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail and was discharged after 30 years of military service, according to prosecutors.

After a two-week trial in Hardin Circuit Court, a jury convicted Martin of all charges, including three counts of murder, one count of arson in the first degree, one count of attempted arson, two counts of burglary in the first degree, and three counts of tampering with physical evidence, according to the Office of Attorney General.

Martin was indicted by a Christian County Grand Jury on May 10, 2019. He was arrested at Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport the following day.

The trial was initially scheduled to occur in Christian County. However, due to pre-trial publicity, a Christian Circuit Judge ordered it be held in Hardin County.

The sentencing phase of the trial is scheduled to begin on Thursday, June 17, 2021.

Barbara Whaley and Alexander Garcia prosecuted the case on behalf of the Commonwealth.  The case was investigated by the Kentucky State Police, the Christian County Sheriff’s Office, and the Department of Criminal Investigations within the Office of the Attorney General. Aaron Ash, a victims’ advocate from the Attorney General’s Office, assisted the families of the crime victims during the case.

Original story below from June 4, 2021:

ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (AP) — Jurors heard conflicting details of a triple slaying in western Kentucky as a trial began for a pilot charged in the fatal shootings.

Commercial airline pilot Christian R. Martin 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.

In her opening statement on Thursday, special prosecutor Barbara Whaley said 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, the Courier Journal reported. Dansereau was 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 that indicates his client could have been planted.

Whaley said Martin wanted to get rid of Phillips because he was scheduled to testify at a court-martial in which Martin was charged with mishandling classified information and abusing his wife’s son.

The trial is expected to last a month.

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.