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Former Kentucky pilot sentenced to life in prison for triple murder maintains his innocence

A pilot from western Kentucky was sentenced Thursday after being convicted in 2015 triple murder.

Christian Martin was sentenced to life in prison Thursday on three counts of murder, arson, attempted arson, burglary and tampering with physical evidence.

He was convicted by a jury in Hardin County in June after the trial was moved from Christian County.

Martin was found guilty of fatally shooting Calvin and Pamela Phillips and their neighbor, Edward Dansereau, in 2015 in Pembroke, Kentucky. A special prosecutor said Martin killed his neighbor because he was supposed to testify in a court martial about Martin allegedly mishandling information and abusing his wife's son.

"It was a gut punch," Martin said of the sentencing. "It was real hard to fathom, and then even when I went back and got shackled and transferred back to jail."

He said even deputies were crying out of disbelief that he got convicted.

In his trial, Martin maintained his innocence and told the court he didn't kill the three people. His attorney argued Martin was framed by an ex-girlfriend who was still married to another man when she married Martin. But prosecutors said the murderer is Martin.

"It's motive overall, overarching over all of this," Special Prosecutor Barbara Whaley said. "No one had the motive to kill Calvin Phillips who was going to be the critical witness in the court martial that would end Martin's career."

Whaley said a shell casing at the scene came from a gun found in a safe at Martin's home across the street and that Martin's dog tags were found in the couple's home. But Martin's attorney said there were no eyewitnesses, no DNA and no fingerprints and said evidence could have been planted. Martin said home security video proves he was at home with his fiance and her children at the time of the murders.

"I was at home with three people," Martin said. "To me, how many witnesses do you have to have to prove your innocence? If I had five people with me that night or 10, 20? How many need to sit there and say, 'Yeah, I was with him all night,' for the jury to go, OK, 'This guy obviously didn't do it. He has an alibi.'"

Martin maintains his innocence and is getting support from a "Free Christian 'Kit' Martin" Facebook group that now has 1,600 members.

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