Christian Richard Martin mug

Christian Richard Martin (Image source: Christian County Detention Center)

ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (WDRB) — 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 for the 2015 slayings of Calvin and Pamela Phillips and their neighbor, Edward Dansereau, in Pembroke.

The trial is being heard in Elizabethtown in Hardin County, after a change of venue from Christianson County in western Kentucky. 

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. 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.

Martin was a pilot for PSA Airlines, a subsidiary of American Airlines, when he was arrested at Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport on May 11, 2019.

Following the murders, authorities say Martin moved from Christian County to North Carolina, where he had been living at the time he was indicted.

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