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Jury recommends Kit Martin serve life in prison without parole

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A jury has recommended former American Airlines pilot Christian "Kit" Martin  serve life in prison without benefit of probation or parole.

Martin was found guilty on all 10 charges on Tuesday after the jury deliberated for eight hours.

The jury recommended that Martin would be sentenced to life without benefit of probation or parole on all three counts of murder. The jury also decided the length of sentence for the other seven charges they found Martin was found guilty of doing. The sentences will be served concurrently.

A sentencing hearing will be held in Christian County on Sept. 2.

A jury recommended today that Kit Martin serve life in prison without the possibility of probation or parole after deliberations this morning.

Describing the murders as "senseless evil acts done by one person," prosecutor Alex Garcia said Martin urged the jury to recommend line in prison without parole.

Prosecutors then brought up the victims' family members, beginning with Calvin and Pam Phillips' son Matt, who tearfully described his late mother.

"My mom was incredibly kind. She had a warmth about her," Phillips said.

Erin Hilton, Dansereau's daughter, described the pain of never hearing him play piano again. 

"I feel his absence and at times it feels like the fear and anxiety has replaced the music and crowds out the memories," Hilton said.

While Martin remained stoic during the testimony, he broke down in tears while his defense team spoke of how he loved his fiancée.

"Kit is not a monster. He is not the cold calculating military killing machine that the prosecutor has painted for you," said Olivia Adams, Martin's attorney.

Tom Griffith, Martin's attorney, told News4 Investigates by text that he intends to appeal the jury's ruling.

After an eight hour deliberation Wednesday night, the jury found former American Airlines pilot Christian "Kit" Martin guilty on all charges, including three counts of murder and arson in the killing of his former neighbors.

Martin did not react as the verdict was read, but when he was being led back to jail, he made a gesture of astonishment.

His reaction is a far cry from when he told News4 Investigates in 2016, in what would be his only interview, that he was not worried about being charged in the murders.

Martin was found guilty of three counts of murder, two counts of 1st-degree burglary, arson, criminal attempt to commit arson and three counts of tampering with evidence in the deaths of Calvin and Pam Phillips, and their next door neighbor Ed Dansereau.

Jurors are deliberating whether or not the neighbor who once lived across the street from three murder victims is responsible for their deaths.

On Wednesday, Assistant Attorney General Barbara Whaley called the acts murders a “cold blooded, calculated, military style operation."

Whaley said only Christian “Kit” Martin had the motive and means to commit the crimes.

But Martin’s defense attorney, Tom Griffith, said the evidence presented by the prosecution in the case was “ridiculous.”

“That shell casing is the sort of suspect evidence that only happens in the movies – but unfortunately this is real life,” Griffith said.

Prosecutors said the murders happened directly across the street from Martin’s Pembroke, KY home in 2015.

News4 Investigates first uncovered that the murders occurred two weeks before Cal Phillips was set to testify in Martin’s court martial.

At that time, Martin was accused of beating the children of his ex-wife and for taking sensitive military equipment.

Instead of focusing on Martin, Griffith spent his closing arguments focusing on trying to convince the jury that Joan Harmon, Martin’s ex-wife, was responsible.

Griffith questioned two key pieces of evidence, including the fact that one of Martin’s dog tags was found inside the Phillips’ home near Cal Phillips’ wallet.

Griffith suggested Harmon could have left it there.

“The most obviously planted thing I’ve ever seen is this,” Griffith said, holding up the dog tag.

Griffith also questioned that Harmon could have planted a shell casing on the back porch of the Phillips’ home.

Prosecutors said that shell casing matched a gun found in Martin’s safe.

“That shell casing is the sort of suspect evidence that only happens in the movies – but unfortunately this is real life,” Griffith said.

Jurors are deliberating whether or not the neighbor who once lived across the street from three murder victims is responsible for their deaths.

Harmon pleaded the 5th when summoned to testify, but told News4 Investigates in 2016 that she believed her husband murdered the three victims.

But prosecutors told jurors not to be swayed by the defense strategy.

“This was not a group effort to plant evidence to fabricate testimony - this was not some grand conspiracy,” Whaley said.

Whaley said that only Martin, with the skills of an army veteran, could have carried out the murders.

Whaley said Martin wanted to keep Cal Phillips from testifying.

Whatley said Pam Phillips and Ed Dansereau were killed because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“To (Martin), they were collateral damage. Cold. Cold,” Whaley said.

Sentencing begins Thursday morning and Martin could face life in prison.

 

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Chief Investigative Reporter

Jeremy Finley is the chief investigator for News4 Investigates. His reporting has resulted in criminal convictions, legislative hearings before the U.S. Congress, and the payout of more than a million dollars to scam victims.

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