Phillips trial canceled
FAIRPLAY – The trial of a man accused of killing a Summit County teen and seriously injuring his friend set to begin Monday has been canceled, leading to speculation he will consider a plea agreement.
Lee Phillips is charged with vehicular homicide, vehicular assault and driving under the influence by Park County authorities. The 41-year-old Hartsel man pleaded not guilty to the charges March 11, and a jury trial was set to begin 8:30 a.m. today.
A Park County Court clerk said Friday, however, the trial had been canceled and the court’s jury information hotline said Saturday that jurors would not be needed. The court clerk said a meeting with Phillips and his attorney, the deputy district attorney and the judge was scheduled for 10 a.m.
Deputy District Attorney David Thorson is on vacation and could not be reached for comment. Phillips’ attorney, Rodney Loomis of Denver, could not be contacted, either.
A prosecutor in the Summit County District Attorney’s office, which is not handling the Phillips case, said it’s likely the trial was canceled because Phillips was offered a plea agreement and will have to decide whether or not to accept it today.
Phillips was arrested Jan. 15 in Park County. According to Colorado State Patrol reports, Phillips was driving southbound on Highway 9. Near Mile 67, Phillips veered off the right side of the road, hit a post and skidded broadside into a collision with a northbound car.
Charles Graham, 20, of Breckenridge, was driving the northbound car and was seriously injured in the crash. His passenger, 19-year-old Marcus Shirley, of Farmer’s Korner, died. Hundreds attended the standing-room-only funeral for the Summit High School graduate Jan. 19 at Agape Outpost.
Under Colorado’s Victims’ Rights Amendment, prosecutors in such cases are required to keep victims and their families informed of the court proceedings. Jerry Shirley, Marcus’ father, said Saturday he was waiting to hear from Thorson, but believed the deputy district attorney had offered Phillips a plea agreement.
“We’ll find out exactly what happens next then on Monday,” Jerry Shirley said. “The sentencing is determined by the judge. But without it going to trial, we suggested 18 years.”
Debra Graham, Charles Graham’s mother, said Saturday the family didn’t know what to expect Monday. She said Charles’ injuries were healing, but they were severe and would be with him a long time. Charles Graham suffered numerous injuries and was initially confined to a wheelchair. His mother said he’s walking with a limp and attending physical therapy regularly.
“His arms were pretty messed up, and it’s holding him back from going to work,” Debra Graham said. “He’s not going to be able to snowboard and skateboard for some time, but he’s slowly getting back to fly fishing, which is one of his passions. And he’s been accepted to go to school in Bozeman (Mont.) in the fall, so he’s been busy with that, even though he can’t do much.”
Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 237 or email@example.com.
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