Tag Archives: Christian County Court

Attorney Cites ‘Foul Smell in the Air’ Surrounding Effort to Link Army Officer to Multiple Murders Near Fort Campbell

As Bill Summers tells it, there’s a “foul smell in the air” in Christian County, Ky., and it stems from the way investigators and prosecutors are treating his client after several bodies were found in the small town of Pembroke, 30 minutes north-northeast of Fort Campbell.

Important Update at End of Article

This photo shows an Army depiction of court-martial proceedings in progress.

This photo shows an Army depiction of court-martial proceedings in progress.

Just before noon Thanksgiving Day, I had the opportunity to speak by phone with Summers, a veteran defense attorney who, along with a team comprised of several talented attorneys, private investigators and others, is helping Army Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin fight allegations made against him by his ex-wife. That woman, by the way, pleaded guilty in Christian County Court Oct. 14 to one felony count of bigamy (i.e., she admitted in court to having married Major Martin without telling him she was still married to another man) only weeks before the major’s military trial — on sexual assault and other allegations she made against him — was scheduled to begin at Fort Campbell.

Though not my first conversation with Summers since I began reporting in August about the prosecution effort that could send Major Martin to prison for as many as 10 years, it was, by far, the most interesting — especially in light of the fact prosecutors, perhaps as a sign of the weakness of their case, are no longer seeking up to 58 years imprisonment to follow a conviction.

Much of our conversation had to do with events that took place Thursday after local law enforcement investigators found human remains were found in a burned-out vehicle on the outskirts of town, and it began with Summers requesting I share his contact information with members of the Fort Campbell-area law enforcement community.

“Give them my cell phone number, 216-538-0135! Tell anyone who wants to speak with me I’ll be at the hotel on post for several more days, but not beyond Dec. 3.”

Why does Summers want them to call? Because, despite the fact officials with the Kentucky State Patrol, Hopkinsville (Ky.) Police Department and Christian County Sheriff’s Department have had his number since Nov. 20, Summers said, he’s “never got a call, telegram or carrier pigeon” request from any of them to talk. Adding insult to injury, he added that he was once left on hold for 45 minutes by Sheriff’s Detective Scott Noiseworthy.

And then our conversation really took off.

Summers relayed how local law enforcement officials traced the burned-out vehicle to Calvin Lee Phillips, 59, and, soon after, began searching his home at 443 South Main Street in Pembroke as well as another across the street, owned by Major Martin. While searching, however, the local officers were not alone.

Army CID Badge

“Army (Criminal Investigation Division) agents arrived on that scene and joined their non-Army colleagues as they searched the first house and, soon after, at Major Martin’s house,” Summers explained. “And that’s the problem! The Commonwealth of Kentucky had a multiple murder over which the U.S. Army had absolutely no authority or jurisdiction. What were they doing there?

“As a matter of law, the Army could never prosecute nor ever have any jurisdiction over him in connection with these off-post murders,” Summers continued. “Only if Major Martin were convicted of something could (the Army) take any action against him, and I have yet to see Commonwealth of Kentucky vs. Christian Martin on any court docket. So, again, why were they allowed in those homes?”

Asked if the presence of Army CID investigators on scene could be justified by the fact Phillips, whose body had been found dead from gunshot wounds inside his home, had partnered with Major Martin’s bigamist ex-wife in trying unsuccessfully to convince the FBI the Army officer was a thief and an international spy, Summers was quick with a response.

“All Law Enforcement personnel know how untouchable everything inside those homes was — especially by CID agents lacking jurisdiction,” Summers explained. “The KSP, Hopkinsville Police and the Christian County Sheriff all know about the scope and breadth of the attorney-client work product privilege and protected confidentiality, and they had to have been told something by CID agents as to why they were interested in the investigation.

“By allowing Army CID agents to enter these houses, especially Major Martin’s place, these local cops made it possible for them to take photos and otherwise gain access to information protected by attorney-client privilege.”

Summers went on to explain Army officials clearly knew they had no authority over the investigation and should not have entered either home. Still, they entered — under the guise of “assisting” their civilian colleagues — and provided “assistance” in the form of seizing Major Martin’s attorney-client privileged personal computer and work papers and removing them from his home.

“Even the dumbest lawyer in the world — and, yes, even Bashore — absolutely knows how sacred all of those items are/were!” Summers said. “They could not even look at the materials that fall under ‘attorney-client privilege,’ and every law enforcement officer on the scene should have known that — especially those in charge!”

Summers’ Bashore reference in the previous paragraph has to do with Army Maj. Jacob Bashore, the special victims prosecutor at Fort Campbell, who is leading the prosecution’s effort to convict Major Martin on nothing more than the word of his bigamist ex-wife. Summers believes the SVP was directly involved in the effort to get CID agents “in the door” of his client’s home.

Taking into account Major Bashore’s own sworn testimony and the sworn testimony of others — including Capt. James P. Garrett, the Army’s lead trial counsel; Katherine Garber-Foster, Christian County assistant prosecutor; and Laura Spencer, Major Martin’s fiancée — during recent months, Summers believes Major Bashore deserves to be kicked out of the Army, lose his law license and be prosecuted for numerous misdeeds he’s committed.

“In my professional opinion, Major Bashore is ruthless, has a reckless disregard for truth and should lose his license to practice law in Tennessee and anywhere else he might try!” he said.

Familiar with the tactics employed in 2009 by then-Captain Bashore during his wrongful 2009 prosecution of Army Sgt. 1st Class Kelly Stewart, I must agree. You can read about those tactics in my first nonfiction book, Three Days In August. But I digress.

In addition to Bashore, Summers pointed his virtual finger at members of local law enforcement for some of their suspicious decision-making.

“We know for sure the (Christian County) Sheriffs Department were offered the security videos of the night after the murders but before the search, and refused,” he told me, referring to security cameras Major Martin had installed on the exterior of home a few doors down and across Main Street from Phillips’ home. “They seized them later with a search warrant! Why not when we offered them?”

Though Summers didn’t come right out and say it, I got the impression he’s concerned about the skill level of investigators who would delay taking possession of items that could, potentially, reveal much about the person(s) making noises that, at around 2 a.m. on the day Phillips’ body was found, caused Major Martin’s dog to, in his words, “wake up and go ballistic.”

The sheriff’s refusal to accept the cameras isn’t the only example of strange behavior on the part of civilian law enforcement. Along with colleagues from the Kentucky State Patrol, Summers said, they’ve refused other offers as well.

“I offered for (Major Martin) and I to sit down with the sheriff and the KSP, but without the Army,” Summers explained, noting the civilian investigators had expressed interest in interviewing Major Martin — but without his lawyer present. “I said, respectfully, he would be glad to appear but only with me present. They said ‘No deal if the Army can’t be part of the interview.’ Naturally, I said, ‘No Army or no interview!’”

Why is Summers so adamant about restricting his client, a 47-year-old attack helicopter pilot who served multiple combat tours in Iraq, to sit-down talks with non-Army investigators only? Because he doesn’t trust anyone associated with the Army’s investigation of his client, especially after seeing firsthand some of the underhanded and unethical legal tactics Major Bashore has employed.

According to Summers, Major Bashore was “exceedingly dishonest” with members of Major Martin’s defense team when, during a nine-hour period on the day after the bodies were found, they asked him multiple times about the major’s whereabouts. Only later did the defense attorney and his colleagues learn their client had been held for 11 hours without food and water at an undisclosed location at Fort Campbell as Army CID agents tried to “break him down.” Worth noting, the career Army officer remained under virtual “house arrest” on post for four days after members of his defense team learned of his whereabouts.

Summers said he will be submitting a motion to the military judge very soon, requesting that a new hearing be held during which he will explain to the military judge why he believes prosecutorial misconduct charges should be brought against Major Bashore and other members of the prosecution team.

Stay tuned for updates as they surface.

UPDATE 12/2/2015 at 8:02 p.m. Central:  According to an evening update to a report in The Leaf-Chronicle newspaper, the Christian County (Ky.) Sheriff’s Office confirmed today that Army CID agents were involved in the search of Major Martin’s home! Therefore, it appears they overstepped their authority and jurisdiction. Stay tuned to see what happens next!

UPDATE 12/7/2015 at 8:15 a.m. Central: A military judge continued the military trial date for Army Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin to sometime in March 2016, though no specific date has been set.

UPDATE 12/10/2015 at 11:09 a.m. Central: I’ve learned that Major Martin’s military trial date is set for March 14-18, 2016.

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.  Please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here. Thanks in advance!

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Nashville’s Fox 17 Omits Key Details From News Reports About Army Officer Caught Up In Murder Investigation

Recent news reports aired on Fox 17 in Nashville might have caused viewers to think Army Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin is the only “person of interest” to investigators trying to find the person(s) responsible for several dead bodies found Nov. 19 in Pembroke, Ky. Why? Because reporter Sabrina Hall omitted many key details in her rush to inform viewers about events in the small town near Fort Campbell. I know this, because I spoke with her by phone multiple times before her stories aired.

This undated photo shows Maj. Christian "Kit" Martin with his three biological children.

This undated photo shows Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin with his three biological children.

Before I continue this piece, it’s worth noting I wrote much of the information in the paragraphs below with the intent of highlighting only the flaws in Hall’s first report that aired the evening before Thanksgiving. In fact, I had transcribed every word spoken during the report. Then, after organizing it into an article and having it ready to publish it, things changed dramatically and the scope of this report expanded. Now that the turkey and pies are gone, I share this expanded set of observations. 

THE FIRST FLAWED REPORT

Hall’s first flawed report was 86 seconds long and appeared on the station’s website under the headline, Person of Interest in Kentucky Triple Homicide Found on Online Videos.

For reasons I’ll explain later in this piece, that report is no longer visible on the Fox 17 website; therefore, I’ll use word pictures to describe Hall’s report and then leave it up to you to decide if she gave viewers a fair and balanced account of what’s happening in the world of Major Martin, a 47-year-old attack helicopter pilot who served multiple combat tours in Iraq.

The report opened with two images — yellow crime scene tape followed by a closeup of a logo on the driver’s door of a Christian County Sheriff’s Office vehicle — as Hall spoke in voiceover mode: “When it comes to three people being murdered, the Christian County Sheriff’s Department says Major Christian Martin isn’t talking, but Fox 17 did find this online.”

Major Christian "Kit" Martin

Major Christian “Kit” Martin is shown behind his desk at home in this screengrab from a copyrighted Skype interview Sept. 2, 2015.

Next, a short excerpt from a Sept. 2 interview I conducted with Major Martin via Skype appeared. Shown seated behind a desk in his home office, surrounded by military memorabilia and with a “Don’t Tread On Me” flag on the wall behind him, the major said, “They did a secret surveillance on me I didn’t know about for six months.”

Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin stands in front of his AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter in Balad, Iraq, in 2008. Though he’s piloted a many of the U.S. Army’s most-sophisticated attack helicopters, nothing prepared him for his battle with the military justice system.

Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin stands in front of his AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter in Balad, Iraq, in 2008. Though he’s piloted a many of the U.S. Army’s most-sophisticated attack helicopters, nothing prepared him for his battle with the military justice system.

The piece continued with viewers seeing a floating image of the Army officer dressed for battle and standing in front of an AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter in Balad, Iraq. At the same time, Hall’s voice filled the air again, saying, “Here, Major Martin talks about the criminal charges he faces: sexual assault, molesting two children and not properly caring for classified information.”

The report cut back to a clip from the interview, with Major Martin saying, “They gave me a three-hour polygraph. I did not expect it to take that long.”

As I reported Sept. 28, Army investigators conducted an extensive, six-month investigation of the major based on allegations made by his ex-wife and one other person. In turn, they found the allegations completely without merit except for the watered-down charge of “not properly caring for classified information” which still stands against him and is something I’ll discuss in a future article.

Next, the on-screen image cut to the exterior of a home, located across the street from Major Martin’s house. Inside that home, investigators had found the body of Calvin Lee Phillips, 59, Nov. 19. Hall continued in voiceover mode: “According to Major Martin’s own attorney, one of the main witnesses who planned to testify against him is now confirmed dead,” she said very dramatically. “Calvin Phillips, shot to death in his own house. Phillips’ wife and neighbor are still missing, although deputies found two bodies burned up in a car. The Christian County Sheriff’s Department says deputies found evidence at this crime scene, leading a SWAT team to swarm Martin’s house.”

What Hall did not say in her report is that the major’s lead defense attorney, Bill Summers, had as much interest in questioning Phillips as Army prosecutors did. Why? Because Phillips was that “other person” mentioned earlier in this piece — the one who stood alongside the major’s ex-wife in making the long-ago-proven-false allegations of theft and international spying. Heck, Summers even told Hall about this Tuesday, she reported it Tuesday evening, and I mentioned her report in a piece the next day.

Instead of mentioning that detail, Hall cut to a clip of Capt. Chris Miller, a spokesperson for the Christian County Sheriff’s Office, saying, “…and we did obtain some evidence out of that home. Can’t say specifically what it is or what it relates to at this point…”

From there, the reporter continued in voiceover mode as short video clips — the first showing a man walking from an SUV in a poorly-lit area and two more showing sheriff’s vehicles — appeared on screen.

“Martin spent four nights locked in Fort Campbell barracks but it now out and back home,” she said. “Detectives say they are working closely with the Army in investigating this case. In these online videos, the major claims his innocence in the charges against him, filed by his ex-wife.”

In reality, Major Martin was not “locked up,” and I had told her as much over the phone. Specifically, I told her what I had been told by Army LTC Chevelle Thomas, a Fort Campbell Public Affairs officer — that is, “Commanders of Fort Campbell have the authority to put administrative limitations (on personnel) within their command.” On top of that, I described his circumstances, for lack of a better phrase, as “house arrest,” and told her the major was not in any kind of a jail cell. Why she opted to use the word “locked” instead? It must have sounded more dramatic to her — or, perhaps, her producer.

As the end of her report neared, Hall cut to the “money shot,” Major Martin behind his desk again, saying, “…and her immediate response was, and I quote, ‘If you divorce me, I will ruin your career. I will ruin your life. I know how to do it.’”

The major’s image remained on screen, his voice fading so that Hall’s could be heard replacing it as she ended her report with the words, “Now, Major Martin has more explaining to do to homicide detectives.”

If it wasn’t so serious a topic, I’d say she sounded like Ricky Ricardo on the old “I Love Lucy” television show, but without the Puerto Rican accent.

Nowhere in Hall’s report did she mention the possibility someone other than Major Martin might have some explaining to do. Among those people is the major’s aforementioned ex-wife, a woman who pleaded guilty in Christian County Court Oct. 14 to a felony charge of bigamy (i.e., she admitted to having married Major Martin without telling him she was still married to another man). Interestingly, this plea came only weeks before the major’s military trial — on the sexual assault allegations she had made — which was scheduled to begin at Fort Campbell. As I reported two days ago, the trial has been ordered delayed indefinitely by a military judge.

And nowhere in Hall’s report did she mention Major Martin’s bigamist ex-wife is, since pleading guilty to the felony count Oct. 14 in Christian County Court, living under judge-imposed travel restrictions, not allowed to travel outside Christian County except to travel to the country where her only legal husband — and father of her second and third child — lives. In addition, she stands to forfeit her $5,000 bond and/or go to jail if she violates those restrictions prior to her sentencing in February.

Though tempted to add details about other omissions by Hall, I’ll save them for future use and wrap things up on the first flawed report.

After watching Hall’s report, I sent her an email message, advising her she had used my excerpts from my copyrighted video without permission. Later, I received a reply in which she asked how much I would charge for use of the video. When I did not reply quickly enough (on the evening before Thanksgiving), she messaged me again to let me know the station would take the video down. And they did, though I later advised her I wouldn’t really charge the station for using the video.

At this point, the report remains off air and, as Martha Stewart might say, “That’s a good thing.”

THE SECOND FLAWED REPORT

The second flawed report, a screenshot of which is shown below in case it, too, disappears from the Fox 17 website, was published Thanksgiving Day under the error-filled headline, Fort Campbell Major Investigated in Pembroke, Ky., Quadruple Murder Investigation.

Screenshot of article on Fox 17 website Nov. 27.

This is a screenshot of an article as it appeared on the Fox 17 website Nov. 27.

Quadruple murder investigation? Fox 17 is the only news outlet to report four murders in relationship to this case. Perhaps, they know more than the rest of us. Needless to say, I won’t waste anyone’s time reporting the content of the video segment that appeared beneath that headline.

Stay tuned for more developments as they occur.

UPDATE 12/7/2015 at 8:15 a.m. Central: A military judge continued the military trial date for Army Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin to sometime in March 2016, though no specific date has been set.

UPDATE 12/10/2015 at 11:10 a.m. Central: I’ve learned that Major Martin’s military trial date is set for March 14-18, 2016.

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.  Please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here. Thanks in advance!

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Multiple Bodies Found Near Fort Campbell as Army Officer’s Trial on Sexual Assault Charges Only One Week Away

It would be an understatement of epic proportions to say only that things have gotten more interesting since I published the first of more than three-dozen articles related to the efforts of Army’s efforts to prosecute Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin, 47, on sexual assault allegations. Why? Because so much more, including several mysterious deaths, has happened since then.

According to a local news report published early Thursday afternoon and updated some 27 hours later, human remains were found in two separate locations in Christian County, Ky., early Thursday morning and people began speculating as to whether or not a connection exists between the prosecution of Major Martin and the individuals found dead.

In another local news report today, a spokesman for the Christian County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that the remains found inside a burned-out vehicle off Rosetown Road on the outskirts of the town of Pembroke, Ky., were those of Calvin and Pam Phillips. Correction: I misread the news report cited earlier in this paragraph (i.e., Miller says investigators have still not positively identified the body of the male victim found inside the home of Calvin and Pam Phillips at 443 South Main Street in Pembroke. A new news report confirms Calvin Phillips’ body was found inside his home on Main Street.)

According to the first news report, local law enforcement officials traced the burned-out car to the Phillips’ home at 443 South Main Street in Pembroke, a town located about 30 minutes north-northeast of Fort Campbell, Ky., home to the vaunted 101st Airborne Division. Soon after, they visited that home and found the body of another person — identified only as a man to date — who appeared to have suffered a gunshot wound to his chest. See correction above.

Perhaps of interest to anyone following the case is the fact Major Martin lives only a few doors down and across the street from the Phillips home. In addition, Calvin Phillips is the man who stood with the major’s accuser and ex-“spouse,” in telling the FBI the major was a thief and an international spy. FYI: I placed the word, spouse, in quotes, because she pleaded guilty in Christian County Court Oct. 14 to one felony count of bigamy (i.e., she admitted in court to having married Major Martin without telling him she was still married to another man). The “evidence” the pair turned in to the FBI — as allegedly having belonged to Major Martin — consisted of an inoperable laptop computer that turned out to have been out of the Army’s inventory for seven years and several compact discs upon which had been scrawled words intended to indicate the CDs contained classified information.

Not surprisingly, the extremely-serious allegations prompted FBI officials to pass along the information to investigators at Army Criminal Investigation Command. Those officials, in turn, conducted an extensive six-month investigation which, unbeknownst to Major Martin as it was taking place, included surveillance and wiretapping as well as an extensive search of his off-post home. In the end, the allegations were proven to be false.

TIPS RECEIVED

After news broke about the bodies being found in Christian County, I was contacted by an individual at Fort Campbell who, having read my series of articles about Major Martin, informed me the major had been arrested Friday by “CID agents with guns drawn.”

In my effort to confirm whether or not Major Martin had, indeed, been arrested, I fired off the inquiry below to Army LTC Chevelle Thomas, a public affairs officer at Fort Campbell, early Monday afternoon:

Colonel Thomas:

I’d like answers ASAP to the following questions regarding Maj. Christian R. “Kit” Martin, a Soldier assigned to the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell:

1. Is Major Martin under some sort of confinement or “house arrest” at Fort Campbell? If so, please provide details about his current status, the reason(s) for it and the anticipated duration of such confinement.

2. Did investigators with the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division staff at Fort Campbell participate in a search of Major Martin’s off-post home at any time during or since Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015? If so, please describe the reason for CID conducting a search of the major’s residence and their legal justification for the same?

3. Do CID investigators at Fort Campbell consider Major Martin a suspect in any recent off-post deaths, including one at a home in his neighborhood, reported over the weekend? If so, why?

4. Do Army officials plan to move forward with plans to conduct a military trial Dec. 1 with Major Martin as a defendant even though his accuser recently pleaded guilty to one felony count of bigamy in Christian County Court?

I was also contacted by another individual who, after requesting anonymity, told me CID agents joined local law enforcement investigators barely 90 minutes after they had begun searching the Phillips home and remained on scene there, and at the nearby house belonging to the major, as it was searched.

These observations appeared to be confirmed in the second news report which cited a Christian County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson as saying the investigations into the deaths remain in the hands of the Christian County Sheriff and Kentucky State Police, with some assistance from Fort Campbell.

While I wait for a response from Colonel Thomas at Fort Campbell, I point readers to more than three-dozen articles I’ve written during the past four months. They are about Major Martin’s case exclusively or about military justice cases in general. Eleven feature excerpts from a video interview I conducted with Major Martin, a highly-decorated attack helicopter pilot and combat veteran. Others tackle the issues of prosecutorial misconductunlawful command influence and the appearance that many Army officers seem bent on convicting a 29-year veteran despite knowing the allegations were made by a woman who’s life history reveals a pattern of deceit and betrayal.

In my next article, I’ll share many previously-unpublished details about the case that were shared with me by a confidential source close to the investigation. Stay tuned!

UPDATE: See also Is Army Trying to Destroy Officer’s Chance for Fair Trial?

UPDATE #2 11/24/2015 at 9:34 a.m. Central: At 9:10 a.m. today, I received the less-than-forthcoming reply (see below) from Colonel Thomas to my four questions submitted yesterday:

Sir,

Commanders of Fort Campbell have the authority to put administrative limitations within their command.  MAJ Christian Martin is currently pending a General Court Martial for 1-5 Dec 2015 time period. There have been no changes to the docket at this time.

Please refer to the Kentucky State Police Department or the Christian County Police Department for the other questions.

UPDATE #3 11/24/2015 at 4:12 p.m. Central: Approximately 40 minutes ago, I received an update from Colonel Thomas at Fort Campbell. She wrote, “MAJ Christian Martin’s General Court Martial has been officially delayed by the military judge as of today.  It has not been re-docketed so there is no new date to report at this time.” Does this mean the “wheels of justice” might finally be rolling in Major Martin’s direction? Only time will tell.

UPDATE #4 11/25/2015 at 8:59 a.m. Central: I posted a correction in the third paragraph above. It appears in red.

UPDATE 12/7/2015 at 8:17 a.m. Central: A military judge continued the military trial date for Army Maj. Christian “Kit” Martin to sometime in March 2016, though no specific date has been set.

UPDATE 12/10/2015 at 11:11 a.m. Central: I’ve learned that Major Martin’s military trial date is set for March 14-18, 2016.

Stay tuned for more!

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.  Please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here. Thanks in advance!

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