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An Outrageous Act of Injustice: The Kit Martin Story



In 2015, Christian “Kit” Martin was on active duty in the Army serving as a decorated Apache helicopter pilot who had served three tours in the Iraqi war and suddenly found himself facing a laundry list of military charges that would have landed him in military prison for a maximum of 10 years if convicted. The charges stemmed from allegations made against him by his ex-wife, a woman named Joan Harmon who pledged that “she would destroy his life and his career and knew how to do it” after she was told by Kit that he wanted a divorce from her because of her volatile behavior.

Joan later pleaded guilty in Christian County (KY) Court to a felony charge of bigamy -- that is, she admitted to having married Kit Martin without telling him she was still married to another man – which cost her military benefits entitled to military spouses.

Shortly thereafter, Martin became a "person of interest" to law enforcement officials in the Fort Campbell area after three dead bodies were discovered November 19, 2015 at two different locations not far from his Pembroke, Kentucky home. One of the bodies was that of Calvin Lee Phillips, a man who lived across the street from Kit and Joan. Calvin who had an affair with Joan, was originally set to testify against Kit during the aforementioned military trial but after being interviewed by private investigators switched and decided to testify on Kit’s behalf.

The triple murder case went cold until 2017 when the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office took over the case after talking to the Phillips family. Investigators say it was the Phillips family that provided them with a spent shell casing (that was later traced to one of Kit’s guns) and a military-style dog tag that had Kit’s name on it which they “discovered” some five months after the police had processed the crime scene at the Phillips home. Allegedly this new evidence combined with mounting political pressure to make an arrest transformed Martin from a “person of interest” to law enforcements prime suspect.

Kit was arrested in 2019 and accused of murdering Edward Dansereau and married couple Calvin and Pamela Phillips on November 18, 2015. The charred remains of Pamela Phillips and Dansereau were found in a burnt car in a field in Pembroke. The car was traced to the Phillips’ home, where investigators found another crime scene – Calvin Phillips dead from multiple gunshot wounds. Curiously, the triple-slayings occurred just weeks before Kit’s military court-martial trial was set to begin.

Kit’s criminal trial occurred in June 2021 and lasted three weeks with numerous witnesses called both by the prosecution and by the defense. The State relied largely on circumstantial evidence including neighbors who testified that the Phillips family was fearful of Kit in order to paint the picture that Kit had the “motive, means and opportunity” to murder three people and then sought to cover his tracks by committing arson. The key narrative by the prosecution was that the murders appeared to be committed with “military precision”. After presenting their 36 witnesses the State then rested.

The defense then took its turn and started by having expert witnesses report on what they found when they examined the pieces of evidence collected by the police to determine if there was any forensic match to Kit. Here’s where the case took what many court observers including current and former judges and various attorneys’ thought was a dramatic turn in support of Kit being found not guilty:

  • In an unusual move, the judge hearing the case quashed a subpoena by the defense thereby allowing Joan Harmon and her son Justin Elijah to invoke a 5th amendment right against self-incrimination and not testify in any manner whatsoever at the trial.

  • The detective who processed the crime scene testified that he collected the cell phone belonging to murder victim Pam Phillips several weeks after the murders occurred from AT&T.  The phone had been in the possession of Joan Harmon following the murders and was wiped clean of its memory. Joan went to the AT & T store to ask them to reset the password. When the store notified her that they were going to keep the phone to give it to the police, Joan immediately left the store which is confirmed by store security video.

  • Blood, hair and swabs taken found the crime scenes could not be linked to Kit.

  • Kit’s fiancé and her children indicated that Kit was with them and provided an alibi for Kit’s whereabouts the evening of November 18th which was supported by video evidence taken from Kit’s home security camera. Thus, the timelines and locations of when the murders allegedly occurred do not match Kit’s whereabouts.

  • State firearms experts could not match the bullet fragments recovered from the victims to any of Kit’s guns.

  • Kit’s daughter testified that her stepmother (Joan Harmon) threatened to destroy her dad “and knew how to do it” after he said he wanted a divorce from her.

  • A contractor who remodeled Kit’s house testified he saw Joan Harmon with a gun that looked like a Glock tucked in her waistband.

  • A restaurant manager where Joan Harmon worked testified that Joan was happy actually excited about the murders which seemed so odd and menacing that the manager called the police.

  • A cell phone expert testified that initial claims by law enforcement that Martin’s phone and Pam Phillips phone were traveling in the same direction were in fact wrong.

  • The Defense’ firearms expert testified that the bullets that killed Calvin Phillips were likely not fired from the defendant’s (Kit’s) Glock.


Kentucky law a jury to convict they conclude that the evidence supports a finding . Over 200 samples of forensic evidence were collected and DNA tested yet not one was DNA matched to Kit Martin, the alleged killer of three people. Incredulously the jury came back with a guilty verdict on all ten charges and recommended life in prison without the possibility of parole on each murder conviction which is what Judge Atkins sentenced him to.

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