Pembroke triple murder suspect sentenced to life without parole
Christian Circuit Judge John Atkins officially sentenced the man who was found guilty of the triple murder that occurred in 2015 in Pembroke in his courtroom Thursday afternoon.
Christian “Kit” Martin was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole by Atkins, who followed the recommendation given by the jury who found Martin guilty.
Martin was found guilty by jury on June 16 for the triple homicide of Calvin and Pamela Phillips as well as their neighbor Edward Dansereau, and burning two of the bodies in a vehicle on Nov. 18, 2015.
Martin’s defense attorneys Tom Griffiths, Doug Moore and Olivia Adams all appeared in court in person Thursday to stand with him as he received his sentencing from the judge.
Atkins gave the defense an opportunity to speak on Martin’s behalf prior to receiving his sentence, however, Griffiths chose to keep it short and simply stated that the defense plans to take the case to the Kentucky Supreme Court.
“Judge, like yourself, I’ve dedicated my life to attempting to seek justice through the jury system and we believe in this case that the jury did not get it right,” Griffiths said.
“I believe justice was not done. We did approach the court to ask the court to set aside that verdict and order a new trial. Your Honor has ruled against us in that matter. Now, we plan to go on to the Kentucky Supreme Court and it is our hope that we will prevail there.”
Following Griffiths’ statement, Atkins told the court that he would follow the jury’s recommendation and sentenced Martin accordingly.
He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for all of his charges; three counts of murder, two counts of first-degree burglary, one count of first-degree arson, one count of criminal attempt to committ first-degree arson and three counts of tampering with physical evidence.
Moore then advised the court that he and the defense were filing a notice to appeal the court’s judgement, which officially began the process of appeal with the Kentucky Supreme Court.
“You are entitled to appeal the court’s judgement and you have 30 days to do so,” Atkins said to Martin and his defense. “Apparently your attorneys have already seen to the importance of that and are filing the paperwork now.”
Moore added that the defense would be asking the Department of Public Advocacy to represent Martin in the appellate matter, meaning Griffiths, Moore and Adams would likely no longer be representing Martin moving forward.
Moore then filed the proper paperwork at the stand Thursday.
Griffiths also requested that all of the evidence in Martin’s case be preserved for the possibility of “post-conviction relief.” Atkins agreed.
Attorney General Special Prosecutor Barbara Whaley requested that the judge allow two family members of the victims in the case to speak in court following Martin’s sentencing. However, Atkins denied the request, adding that he was well-versed in how the victims in the case feel.
“I don’t believe that’s necessary,” Atkins said. “The court was well-informed about the family’s position when they testified before the jury deliberated on (Martin’s) sentence.
“Plus, I will say for the record, the (pre-sentence investigation report) in this case was the most comprehensive one I believe I have ever seen and I have read each and every letter that was submitted by family members. So, I’m pretty well-versed on how they feel and I think I’m well advised to deny the request to address the court under the circumstances.”
Martin was then remanded and returned to the custody of the Christian County Jail.
Prior to Martin’s sentencing, a “Free Kit Martin Rally” was held in front of the Christian County Justice Center Thursday that began around noon.
Family members of Martin as well as others who believe that he was wrongfully convicted, totalling between 20 and 30 people, stood on the sidewalks of the Justice Center and raised signs asking drivers to honk if they believed Martin should be freed.
Those who were participating in the rally also held signs that read “Free Kit Martin,” “Kit Martin — Innocent Patriot,” “We won’t quit unless we see Kit free,” and similar statements.
The rally was organized by the President of the Carolinas Chapter of the National Coalition for Men Greggory Josefchuk.
Josefchuk shared that Martin was also a board member for the Carolinas Chapter during his time living in North Carolina.
“I’ve gotten to know (Martin) very closely over these last five or six years,” Josefchuk said. “He’s a man of integrity and I’m completely convinced that he’s innocent. I think he is the very face of wrongful conviction.”
Josefchuk continued to explain that he organized the rally and those who were participating wholly believe Martin is innocent and the jury convicted the wrong person.
“Today we’re here because we do believe it was a wrongful conviction and to fight for his freedom and his liberty,” Josefchuck said.
“At the end of the day, that’s what this is all about, these people feel very passionately that he did not get a fair trial and we’re obviously disappointed in the outcome of it. We all believe that the person or persons that committed this crime is still walking around free while an innocent man is in jail.”
Josefchuk also stated that he and the NCFM hope that the media and others take note of their rally and look further into Martin’s case in order to see his conviction eventually overturned.
“We hope that the media would take a much closer look at the facts of the case,” he said. “One of the things you would probably find out if you talked to (Martin) is that there were many things that were not allowed to be brought into evidence in this court.
“Again, we’re doing this today to hopefully get the media to start digging into this a little more, because, again, we think an innocent person is behind (bars) and the person or persons who committed this absolute heinous act is out there walking around.”
Josefchuk added that everyone who participated in the rally also felt deeply for the family of the victims of the case as well as Martin’s family.