New evidence postpones murder trial
Superior Telegram New cell phone evidence recovered by the Superior Police Department has postponed the murder trial of one of five co-defendants charged with the fatal shooting of Garth Velin. Teah Joan Phillips, 18, faces one count of party to ...
New cell phone evidence recovered by the Superior Police Department has postponed the murder trial of one of five co-defendants charged with the fatal shooting of Garth Velin.
Teah Joan Phillips, 18, faces one count of party to felony murder. She is one of five young adults accused of taking part in a botched robbery attempt Sept. 30, 2014 at Velin’s home in Superior’s Allouez neighborhood that led to his death.
Her trial was set to begin in Douglas County Circuit Court today, but Judge George Glonek granted a continuance of the trial Thursday. Phillips’ attorney, Mark Biller of Balsam Lake, Wis., requested the move after receiving information about new cell phone evidence the state had uncovered. He apologized to Velin’s family for the delay.
"But we need to get this case done right and we need to get this case done once," Biller told the court.
New technology was used to dig deeper into Phillips’ cell phone, bringing texts and photos to light that could have a bearing on the case.
According to Douglas County District Attorney Dan Blank’s motion to admit the evidence, the new information includes a photo that shows a handgun on Phillips’ lap while she was seated in the driver’s seat of her car and a series of text messages that touch on other illegal activities, including robberies and marijuana sales.
Such text messages are a cold record, much like a transcript, Biller said, and he needs to put them in context by finding corroborating evidence.
A key issue in the case, Blank wrote in his motion to admit the new evidence, is Phillips’ intent and knowledge to participate in the armed robbery plan.
The trial was re-scheduled for May 10. Blank said efforts are ongoing to possibly resolve the case. He told the court that the results of the recent jury trial of co-defendant Kyham Lavon Dunn, 21, are being analyzed by both sides. Dunn, who also faced a single party to felony murder charge, was found not guilty by a Douglas County jury of 12 on Jan. 28 following about two hours of deliberation.
Chance William Andrews, 19, pleaded guilty on June 9 in Douglas County Circuit Court to felony murder for shooting Velin twice in the chest. He is serving a 40-year sentence for the murder and two additional felony charges unrelated to the murder.
A Douglas County jury found Kane Michael Robinson, 21, guilty of party to felony murder in June, and he was sentenced in December to 28 years - 18 years in prison and 10 years of extended supervision. He is challenging the conviction and has filed a motion to seek post-conviction relief.
Robinson’s brother, Dallas Eugene Robinson, 20, has a trial scheduled for March 8. He faces one count of party to felony murder, but entered into a plea agreement with Blank prior to Dunn’s trial. Dallas Robinson agreed to testify against Dunn and Phillips in return for a reduced charge of attempted armed robbery. He did testify against Dunn, but has yet to testify against Phillips. He also retained a new attorney Feb. 11, according to court records, and that attorney has filed a request for a continuance of Dallas Robinson’s March trial.