UPDATE (4:10 p.m.) Court has recessed for the day and will resume Wednesday, June 8 for day three of the trial. The state says its next witness, who will be called to the stand in the morning, will be a lengthy testimony.
UPDATE (3:53 p.m.) Video from Officer Johnson’s bodycam and dashcam from Dec. 1, 2020 has been shown in court. The state is going through still shot images from the cameras with Detective Lioi.
Lioi verified to the court that some of the images show Phillips allegedly holding Johnson’s handcuffs. He also says other photographs show that Johnson had initially tried to place Phillips in handcuffs before the struggle began.
Photos also depict Johnson trying to disarm Phillips, Lioi said. Lioi also pointed out photographs showing Phillips allegedly holding his own firearm while having his other hand on Johnson’s holster.
The video from the dashcam also depicts Phillips leaving the scene in the red Durango.
The state also showed video from both camera’s depicting different angles of the same timeframe playing in synchronization.
UPDATE (2:43 p.m.) Detective Christopher Lioi of the Charleston Police Department has been called to the witness stand.
Detective Lioi says he responded to the scene at 47 Garrison Avenue where Phillips was arrested following the shooting of Officer Johnson. He says he realized Phillips was injured when he noticed him bleeding from the chest.
Lioi says he also reviewed Johnson’s dashcam video, which he says clearly showed she was wearing her bodycam on the right side of her chest. He was shown photos entered as evidence to verify they are images from Johnson’s bodycam and dashcam.
UPDATE (2:28 p.m.) The state says they intend to submit photos and videos from Officer Johnson’s bodycam and dashcam as evidence during the trial.
The defense is objecting to using some the videos that have been freeze-framed and slowed down in the middle of a video that had previously been played at normal speed, saying they are “altered” and would be “confusing and prejudicial” for the jury.
The state rebuttals that the video is important evidence, but slowing down some of it is vital for the jury to see what is happening, because of how quickly some events occurred. The state says there are some events they did not even notice until the video was slowed down.
The defense’s objection has been overruled by Judge Bailey.
UPDATE (1:53 p.m.) Blake Kinder, a forensic scientist with the West Virginia State Police forensic laboratory took the stand as the ninth witness of the day. Kinder is considered an expert in analysis of evidence for controlled substances.
Kinder says the lab received an envelope containing 63 blue tablet pills, one of which contained clonazepam, a schedule four drug. He says schedule four means it does have medicinal uses and is of a lower addiction level.
UPDATE (1:11 p.m.) Following the testimony of Marshall Sharp, the state called Richard Chapman to the stand. Chapman is currently incarcerated on drug charges. He also owned the home at the address where Johnson had been responding on Dec. 1, 2020, when she was shot.
Chapman says he bought the Klonopin pills from Sharp and his uncle, Herb Sharp, for $100, and then allegedly sold them to Joshua Phillips for $200. He says he told Phillips to leave after police knocked on the front door, and that Phillips left from the back door.
Like Sharp, Chapman also admitted that he initially lied to police when being questioned on Dec. 1, 2020. He claims he lied due to fear the drug incident would be tied to Johnson’s shooting.
“That was the most horrible thing I ever heard of in my life,” Chapman said in regard to Johnson’s shooting.
At the time of the Dec. 1, 2020 incident, Chapman says he was on bond for a drug case pending in Putnam County. He took a plea agreement in that case as well as in the Kanawha County case stemming from the Dec. 2020 drug incident.
UPDATE (12:53 p.m.) Court is back in session after lunch. The seventh witness of the day, Marshall Sharp, has been called to the stand.
Sharp claims he obtained Klonopin pills by taking them after his father intended to throw them away. He says they had belonged to his grandmother who had recently passed away. Sharp says he initially took the medication himself, but “did not like the feeling they gave” him, and then decided to sell them. He says he and his uncle went to the home of another man, Richard Chapman, and sold the pills for $100. He says on Dec. 1, 2020, an individual named “Josh” came to Chapman’s home on Garrison Avenue to allegedly buy the pills.
Sharp says after being told police were at the scene on Dec. 1, 2020, he heard a female officer yelling at someone to show their hands, and then six to eight gunshots before hearing tires of a vehicle “peeling out” of the area. He says he was in another room during the exchange of the Klonopin to remain anonymous.
During his testimony and cross examination, Sharp admitted that he had initially lied to police during questioning. Sharp later pleaded guilty to charges of possession with intent to deliver. Sharp also claimed that he was intoxicated during the initial questioning from police on Dec. 1, 2020.
UPDATE (11:42 a.m.) The court has now gone to lunch and will resume in approximately one hour.
UPDATE (11:23 a.m.) The state’s sixth witness of the day, Charleston Police Department Information Services Commander Sgt. Greg Lucas, was called to the witness stand.
Lucas explained to the jury how the department’s body camera’s work, stating they are always in a “passive recording state,” meaning if they are powered on, they are always recording with video, but no audio. Officers must hit a button to put the camera in “full activation mode” for audio to be recorded along with the video, he says.
Lucas says video is uploaded and stored to his office. He said he went to the scene and collected the body cameras from officers to collect the video evidence from the cameras and uploaded the evidence to the server.
He says this also includes Officer Johnson’s body camera. He says it was fully activated, but was hit during the incident and deactivated. He says there is no indication she purposefully turned it off, and that it can be common for the bodycams to be hit during a struggle, such as the one that occurred during the incident. After the camera was deactivated, it continued to capture video in the passive recording state.
Lucas says another officer collected the video from the dashcam in Johnson’s cruiser.
UPDATE (10:46 a.m.) Sgt. Miller’s testimony resumed briefly after the 15 minute recess. Charleston Police Officer Adam Kuhner was then called to the witness stand.
Kuhner also testified that a bag of blue pills were found in the pair of jeans that had been turned in with Phillips’ clothing. He says the he and McMaster did an inventory search of the clothing on Dec. 3, 2020. Sgt. Miller had brought the clothing in for evidence the day prior, Dec. 2, 2020, but they waited for the clothing to properly dry before conducting the search. Kuhner adds that the the clothing was bloody from where Phillips had been wounded in the incident.
UPDATE (10:38 a.m.) Following a 15 minute recess, Judge Jennifer Bailey says Defendant’s Evidence No. 2, bodycam footage from Phillips being placed in an ambulance a short distance from the Garrison Avenue scene may not be relevant.
The state objected to the evidence prior to the recess because it was not related to the scene that took place at Garrison Avenue. The defense had been questioning CPD officer Sgt. Hedrick Miller on that evidence at the time.
UPDATE (10:00 a.m.) Charleston Police Department Officer Sgt. Hedrick Miller is called to the stand.
Miller says he assisted in placing Phillips on the gurney and following the ambulance to the hospital. He says he also collected Phillips’ clothing from the ambulance as evidence.
UPDATE (9:46 a.m.) The state has called former Charleston PD officer Joshua McMaster, now a patrolman with the Gahanna, Ohio, Police Department, to the stand.
McMaster gave a testament regarding the stainless steel firearm found at the scene of the Dec. 1, 2020 shooting and collected as evidence. The prosecuting attorney brought the gun, state’s Exhibit No. 6, to McMaster to identify as the firearm found at the scene that day. He confirmed he did recognize the firearm, which was then presented to the jury.
McMaster also testified that blue pills were found in the pocket of Phillip’s jeans.
UPDATE (9:38 a.m.) The next witness for the state is Charleston PD’s Officer Brent Foster.
UPDATE (9:24 a.m.): The prosecution has called its first witness, and now Charleston PD’s Cpl. Brandon Rinehart is testifying.
The state has begun to play footage from Rinehart’s body camera.
CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK)—The trial for a man accused of killing a Charleston police officer continues at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday.
Opening arguments began on Monday in the trial of Joshua Phillips, and witnesses started taking the stand for the prosecution.
Also on Monday morning, the court chose 14 jurors, two of whom will be alternates.
Before the final selection was made from that group, the attorney for Joshua Phillips again made a motion for a change of venue, claiming he cannot get a fair trial due to the public’s familiarity with the case.
Judge Jennifer Bailey again denied that motion stating that it was not whether the jurors were aware of the case, but if they were able to remain impartial and render a verdict based on the evidence in court. Bailey says to make her decision, she used other cases from across the state where publicity and public knowledge and opinion have come into question of whether the defendant was able to receive a fair trial in the county where the case occurred.
Phillips is accused of shooting and killing CPD Patrolman Cassie Johnson in December 2020. Johnson was shot in the line of duty while responding to a parking complaint on Dec. 1, 2020, and died of her injuries on Dec. 3, 2020.
Phillips’ trial was previously scheduled to start back in March 2022, however, Judge Jennifer Bailey said at that time there were not enough jurors available to begin the trial. Judge Bailey also ruled that the case will remain in Kanawha County following a change of venue request from the defense.