D.C. Police Officer Guilty in Deaths of Mistress, Infant

Thursday, Jan 17, 2013  |  Updated 8:55 PM EDT
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Richmond Phillips found guilty on all counts in the death of his girlfriend and daughter. News4's Jackie Bensen gets reaction from family members outside the courthouse.

Jackie Bensen

Richmond Phillips found guilty on all counts in the death of his girlfriend and daughter. News4's Jackie Bensen gets reaction from family members outside the courthouse.

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A Prince George's County jury found a D.C. police officer guilty of two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his mistress and their infant child, News4's Jackie Bensen reported.

Richmond Phillips killed Wynetta Wright because he was facing a paternity lawsuit and didn't want to pay child support for a baby girl he fathered out of wedlock, Prince George's County prosecutors said. A defense lawyer had countered that his client “didn't do this thing” and there wasn't evidence for a conviction.

Phillips was also convicted of other counts, including possession of a handgun and child abuse.

"Today the verdict was wonderful," Wynetta Wright's mother told Bensen, immediately after the verdict. "The jury saw right through his lies. It was all just a bunch of lies."

Wright's mother said she was devestated by the fate of her granddaughter. "She was really an innocent victim, she couldn't defend herself at all," Wright's mother said. "It kills me to know what happened to my grandbaby."

Phillips was arrested in June 2011 after police located the bodies of 20-year-old Wright and her daughter, Jaylin, in a park outside Washington. Prosecutors said Phillips shot Wright and then drove the child - still strapped in the car seat of her mother's car with the doors closed and the windows up - a short distance away, where he left her to die.

A heat advisory was in effect, and temperatures inside the car reached 125 degrees, Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said.

"My daughter didn't have a chance, but my grandbaby could have been saved," said Wright's mother.

Said another family member, holding a picture of Wright outside the courthouse, "God is good. I am so glad. I can't say how it felt to sit 10 feet behind someone who took a part of your life."

Phillips faces a two possible sentences of life in prison, without parole, plus 20 years. Sentencing is scheduled for March 22, reported News4 Prince George's County Bureau Chief Tracee Wilkins.

When Phillips invited Wright to meet him at the park to try to work things out ahead of a scheduled court hearing, one of only two things was going to happen, Alsobrooks said. He would talk her out of the paternity suit or kill her.

Surveillance video and phone records connect Phillips to the park where the killing occurred, DNA evidence links him to the murder, and he lied to investigators about his relationship with Wright, prosecutors said.

Defense lawyer Brian Denton said his client was innocent and that the case hinged on circumstantial evidence. He said that although prosecutors have surveillance footage showing Phillips and Wright talking at Oxon Run Stream Valley Park, the video does not capture the moment when Wright was killed. He said the DNA evidence was unreliable and that many people, not just his client and Wright, would have had access to a park where cigarette butts, alcohol bottles and condoms are commonly found.

Phillips met Wright at a nightclub while off-duty and their relationship soon turned sexual. But Phillips, who was already married with another child, ended contact with her after learning that she was pregnant, the jury heard.

Wright served Phillips with a paternity suit early in 2011 and a subsequent test confirmed that he was the father of her child.

Phillips invited Wright to meet her at the park on the eve of a scheduled court date in their paternity case, and Wright was excited to bring Jaylin so that she could meet her father, Alsobrooks said.

Phillips, who was assigned to a vice squad, had been suspended without pay pending the outcome of the case, police said.

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