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Sunday, July 07, 2019

Dunn talks about Phillips case
A man charged with killing a Jefferson City woman, her two year-old son and her unborn child in June, continues to be held without bond. William David Phillips, 32, North Highway 92, Jefferson City is charged with three counts of First Degree Murder as well as Attempted First Degree Murder. Investigators allege that Phillips was operating a motor vehicle, northbound on Chucky Pike on June 17, when police say "he stated a voice told him that he needed to go and kill the meth addicts", and there are reports that Phillips also told bystanders that "the government told me to do it." And so Phillips allegedly began driving very fast. Detective Roland Holt of the Jefferson City PD said Phillips was driving at a high rate of speed on Main Street when he said the voice told him that the baby stroller on the sidewalk had methamphetamine in it, so he intentionally drove into Sierra Cahoon, 31 and her two year-old son Nolan in the stroller, killing both of them. Mrs. Cahoon's unborn child also died. "This act was done with premeditation," the detective alleges. Another crash was reported on East Main Street nearby where another pedestrian had been struck. Detective Holt says in the second incident, Phillips was driving on Main Street “looking for people to kill with his car when he saw the victim, Tillman Gunter walking, and he intentionally drove his car into him.” The injured man told police he tried to jump from the path of the Phillips' vehicle, but the suspect drove toward him. Gunter was treated at Jefferson Memorial Hospital. Officers also determined that an unidentified employee inside the building had been injured and was transported to a local hospital for treatment after the Cahoon incident. On Tuesday, Phillips appeared before Jefferson County General Sessions Judge Dennis Roach. The defendant, who is being held without bond, is being represented by Knoxville criminal attorney Doug Trant. Fourth Judicial District Attorney General Jimmy Dunn, who is prosecuting the case, talked to the NewsSource about the Phillips case. Dunn says investigators have not determined if Phillips was under the influence at the time of the incident. "We don't know but evidence has been sent to the (TBI) crime lab for analysis. Asked if Phillips told investigators he had been using methamphetamine, Dunn said, "I can't comment on that. I don't have anything in front of me right now." The prosecutor says he hasn't decided whether he will seek the death penalty in the case, but he says there are certain criteria that have to be met before the death penalty can be sought. He says the aggravating factors must outweigh the mitigating factors in the case. "There are aggravating factors in this case; one is if one of the victims is less than three years old, that's an aggravating factor in this particular case another would be if the crime is a mass killing...three people or more. So there are more than one aggravating factors in this case, and the state only has to prove one." He said all the factors and circumstances would be presented to a jury which would have to decide if the death penalty should be imposed. But Dunn points out that the same aggravating factors can be used by the prosecution in asking the jury for life without parole or a life sentence. Dunn said first degree murder requires proof that the act was intentional unless it was committed during the perpetration of another felony or theft. But currently, all three possible penalties "are on the table," he said. The prosecutor indicated that Defense Attorney Trant has asked for a mental evaluation of the defendant, and an evaluation will be conducted as soon as one can be arranged. Dunn was asked if Phillips has a history of mental illness. "That remains to be seen, we are investigating that."

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