Opening statements get Pembroke triple-murder trial underway

Opening statements kicked off the trial against Christian “Kit” Martin, the man charged in the 2015 triple murder of three neighbors in Pembroke, Thursday afternoon.

The trial is taking place in Hardin County and Assistant Attorney General Barbara Whaley began her statements by saying Martin had a motive and a plan, due to Calvin Phillips being a witness in a court martial proceeding against him earlier in the year of 2015. Phillips was also the one that reportedly turned over photographic evidence of abuse to the FBI that resulted in the charges that led to the court martial.

She concluded by saying no one had the motive Martin had to commit this crime.

Defense attorney Tom Griffiths used his opening statement to declare that none of the DNA or ballistics evidence links Martin to the murders in anyway.  He says the prosecution is basically asking the jury to just guess, due to the lack of tangible evidence, and he says they’ll hear from a lot of witness who can only prove that a tragedy occurred in 2015.

Griffiths says Calvin Phillips wasn’t just a witness against Martin in those court martial proceedings—he was also a defense witness—so that motive doesn’t fit. He says there were plenty of people who wanted Martin arrested and convicted, including his ex-wife, who he says will play a big role in the trial because she played a big role in all events that would occur.

A hearing concerning the allowance of hearsay evidence and other evidence during the trial of Christian “Kit” Martin was held before trial began.

Christian County Sheriff’s Lt. Scott Smith testified during that hearing and says Calvin Phillips spoke with friends before the court martial proceedings happened in December of 2015 and said he was concerned Martin would hurt him.

Lt. Smith says he believes those statements were based on fear of what Martin might do, but he was unaware of any violent contact between the two parties at that point.

The defense questioned him on the trustworthiness of those who told law enforcement of these statements, saying Lt. Smith reportedly felt at one time those witnesses could be ‘bought’, but he said his stance changed as the investigation continued.

Following the lengthy hearing, the judge ruled that the Attorney General’s Office met the threshold for proving a preponderance of evidence and that the hearsay testimony will be admissible at trial. Trial is expected to last the majority of June.