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Superior murder suspect’s mother arrested in connection with case

Teah Phillips, center, exits the courtroom after being bound over for arraignment after waving preliminary hearing in Douglas County Circuit Court on Wednesday morning. (Jed Carlson/jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

Alaysha Phillips wept as she sat in a Douglas County courtroom last week and watched as her 17-year-old daughter appeared on a video screen from the Douglas County Jail.

On Wednesday, it was the 43-year-old Phillips that was dressed in an orange jumpsuit, appearing via video feed for a bail hearing. She is the sixth person to be arrested in connection with the Sept. 30 death of 20-year-old Garth Velin, who police said was shot during a botched robbery attempt at his East Superior home.

Superior police booked Phillips, of Superior, under Wisconsin’s “harboring or aiding felons” law. Deputy Police Chief Nicholas Alexander said she was taken into custody Tuesday without incident.

Phillips is accused of hiding a piece of evidence from police during the investigation of Velin’s death. Alexander said police sought the item, which he would not publicly identify, but that Phillips claimed she did not have it. Police obtained a warrant and found the item in the glove compartment of her car.

“This is a difficult incident. There are so many young suspects involved,” Alexander told the News Tribune. “It can be hard for the parents to decide what’s the right thing and wrong thing to do in terms of their kids. She’s of course innocent until proven guilty, but we felt there was probable cause to justify an arrest.”

District Attorney Dan Blank said he expects to file formal charges of obstructing an officer, a misdemeanor, and aiding a felon, a felony.

Court Commissioner Rebecca Lovejoy released Phillips on a $1,000 signature bond and scheduled her next appearance for Oct. 23.

Meanwhile, her daughter was one of two co-defendants that appeared for a preliminary hearing before Judge Kelly Thimm Wednesday in Douglas County Circuit Court.

Teah Phillips and 20-year-old Kane Robinson, both charged last week as parties to felony murder, waived their rights to a contested hearing. Phillips is being held on $50,000 bond, and Robinson on $75,000.

Another co-defendant, 20-year-old Kyham Dunn, was in St. Louis County custody, but waived his extradition and appeared in court Monday. His bail was set at $100,000.

The alleged shooter, 17-year-old Chance Andrews of Duluth remains in St. Louis County custody. He has so far refused to waive extradition, and Blank said it could take several weeks to get him transported back to Wisconsin.

The final co-defendant, 18-year-old Dallas Robinson, just recently received a public defender and is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing on Nov. 3.

The case has created some headaches for the local public defender’s office. To avoid conflicts of interest, the office can only provide a staff attorney to one defendant, and had to bring in outside attorneys to represent the others.

Lance Nelsen, a Superior attorney and former prosecutor, is representing Kane Robinson. Chetek attorney James Babbitt, a former Barron County judge, is defending Teah Phillips. Former Bayfield County District Attorney Craig Haukaas, now a private practice attorney in Ashland, is handling Dallas Robinson’s case. Aaron Nelson, a New Richmond attorney who successfully defended a first-degree homicide suspect in Douglas County earlier this year, is representing Dunn.

Police and prosecutors said there is certain to be a great deal of finger-pointing in the case due to the unusual number of defendants and lack of witnesses.

Velin was found dead inside his residence on the 3700 block of East First Street on the evening of Tuesday, Sept. 30. His girlfriend, who was upstairs at the time of the incident, said she heard what sounded like a gunshot and found him with a wound to the chest.

Teah Phillips allegedly told police that she drove her four friends to a location near Velin’s home that evening. She stated that she went to the home and verified that Velin was home. She returned to the car, while Andrews, Dunn and Dallas Robinson went back to the home, according to the complaint.

Police said Phillips reported that the friends returned and told her that “it went bad” and that Velin was shot during a struggle after Andrews pulled out a gun.

All five suspects were arrested within 24 hours.

Maria Lockwood of the Superior Telegram contributed to this report.

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