American Airlines pilot arrested on board plane for triple homicide earlier faced a military court martial for battery and sexual assault
A commercial airline pilot was arrested on an airplane full of passengers and charged in connection to a cold-case pertaining to the brutal 2015 murders of three of his neighbors. According to ABC News, 51-year-old Christian R. Martin, a pilot for PSA Airlines, a subsidiary of American Airlines, was arrested on Saturday, May 11, at the Muhammad Ali International Airport in Louisville just as his flight was scheduled to take off. A booking photo shows him still in his pilot's uniform.
The arrest came just a day after Martin was indicted by a Christian County grand jury on three counts of murder, one count of arson, one count of attempted arson, two counts of burglary, and three counts of tampering with evidence in the murders of Calvin Phillips, 59, his wife Pamela Phillips, 58, and their neighbor Edward Dansereau, 63.
Calvin was found shot to death inside his home in Pembroke, Kentucky, in November 2015. Pamela and Dansereau were later discovered burned beyond recognition several miles from their homes in a car that had been driven into a cornfield and set on fire.
Martin was living across the street from the couple and Dansereau at the time and denied any involvement in their murders even though he claimed Calvin was having an affair with his wife. In interviews with the media, he said he had no worries on whether he would be charged in their murders.
Close to three years later, it appears as though investigators have finally managed to gather enough evidence to link Martin to the murders. According to the indictment, Martin broke into the Phillips' home on November 18, 2015, and fatally shot Calvin with a .45 pistol before then proceeding to shoot and kill Pamela and Dansereau with a .22 caliber firearm.
The indictment alleges that Martin then put the bodies of the latter two into a car and drove into a cornfield several miles from their neighborhood and then set the vehicle on fire with the victims still inside. Shortly after their murders, he moved to North Carolina.
American Airlines, who have employed Martin since January 2018, said the 51-year-old had passed a routine criminal background check and that they found "no criminal history that would disqualify him from being a commercial pilot."
But this is not the first time that Martin has found himself in trouble with the law. The murders of the Phillips' and Dansereau occurred just days before Martin faced a military court-martial on charges of assault consummated by battery upon a child under the age of 16, conduct unbecoming of an officer, sexual assault, mishandling classified information, and communicating a threat.
The 51-year-old was eventually convicted of assaulting his stepson by coming up behind him and "placing his arms around his stepson's neck in a 'rear naked choke,' lifting him off the ground, and squeezing his neck until his body went limp and felt numb." As punishment, he was dismissed from the military and placed under "confinement for 90 days."
Authorities revealed that Calvin was due to testify during that trial, with Fox 17 Nashville reporting, "Martin faced child rape charges, accusations he beat his step-son and charges he mishandled classified information. That information on CDs and laptops had been discovered by Calvin Phillips. He was Martin’s next door neighbor, who was murdered before he could testify against Martin."
But Martin's lawyer at the time, Tucker Richardson, claimed Calvin was set to testify on Martin's behalf during those proceedings and that he was the defense' "star witness." While he will probably not be defending the pilot this time around, he told WKRN recently that he believed his former client was innocent and argued that any insinuation that Martin killed Calvin because he was due to testify could not be "further from the truth."
Martin's daughter, McKenzie, similarly insisted that her father was innocent in a statement which read, "My dad is an American hero. He’s served his whole life and before this had a spotless record. We believe that he is innocent of these charges and hope that the truth will come out."
Martin is scheduled to be arraigned on May 22 at the Christian County Justice Center in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, on his current charges. Prosecutors said he could face the death penalty if he was convicted of his charges. He is currently being held at the Christian County Detention Center without bail.