CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – A man accused of killing Charleston Police Officer Patrolman Cassie Johnson was in Kanawha County Circuit Court today for a pretrial hearing.

The defense for Joshua Phillips, 39, is trying to get the trial moved out of Kanawha County claiming the “intense” media coverage of Johnson’s death and the case has made a fair trial difficult. This was the first time he has been in the courtroom in person.

Phillips is the only suspect in Johnson’s death. He faces charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy, prohibited persons from possession of a concealed firearm and violation of the uniform controlled substance act. He was formally charged in December 2020 with felony first-degree murder for the death of Charleston Patrolman Cassie Johnson in early December. Johnson was shot in the line of duty on Dec. 1, 2020, and died of her injuries two days later.

Phillips pleaded not guilty in April 2021.

Judge Jennifer Bailey ruled the court will meet Tuesday, March 22 at 1 p.m. to further discuss a change of venue. The State, however, says they still want to move forward with the scheduled March 28 trial date.

While the defense did not call on any witnesses today, officers who responded to the scene also testified in the courtroom, some getting emotional while talking about that day.

“Yes, I heard her actually saying, ‘stop,’ and you can hear the scruffling of the mircophone,” said former CPD Cpl. Jarl Taylor.

When the attorney asked him what he did when he heard her over the radio, Taylor said, “At that point, that’s when I – I drove lights and sirens to that area.” His voice began to break as he answered the question.

Also in the courtroom today were Officer Johnson’s mother and sister as well as Phillip’s mother.