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3 women say Phillips showed violent streak

Murder suspect battered them, they say

By Michelle Bradford

This article was published September 25, 2003 at 9:06 p.m.

— A woman testified Wednesday that an enraged Clint Eugene Phillips beat and choked her in 2002, in the same manner prosecutors say he murdered a Madison County woman nine years ago.

"He was screaming, pulling his own hair," the 19-year-old testified. "He was just so crazy. Then all of a sudden he just stopped."

Phillips was convicted of sexually assaulting the woman in June 2002.

Phillips, 27, of Huntsville faces a capital murder charge in Madison County Circuit Court in the death of Billie Jean Phillips, to whom he isn't related.

Prosecutors aren't seeking the death penalty.

Clint Phillips was 17 when Billie Jean Phillips, 35, was found bludgeoned and strangled in her Alabam home Sept. 3, 1994. Forensics matched his DNA to DNA under the dead woman's fingernails last year.

On Wednesday, the 19-year- old woman whom Clint Phillips assaulted said he made a vague, but shocking, admission last year while they were high on methamphetamine: He'd killed two people, and police were looking for him.

Phillips denied making those statements in a TV news interview after his murder arrest in November.

Jurors on Wednesday watched the taped interview. Clint Phillips tells a reporter that Billie Jean Phillips scratched him when they had oral sex in his pickup the night of her death. Days later, he was a pallbearer at her funeral.

In all, three women testified Wednesday that Clint Phillips battered them.

His ex-wife, Mikal Childress, said he first choked her in 1999, while she was pregnant. Clint Phillips also kicked her, threw her to the ground and hit her face during their year of marriage, Childress testified.

Leshea Shelby testified that Clint Phillips stabbed her with her keys and threw her around in 2001.

"He locked me in my room, grabbed my ears and head-butted me," Shelby said.

Clint Phillips kept his head down and wrote intently at the defense table while the three women testified.

Dr. Charles Kokes of the state medical examiner's office said it's unlikely that Clint Phillips' DNA transferred to Billie Jean Phillips' nails during oral sex.

More likely, Kokes testified, it transferred during her death fight.

Prosecuting Attorney Terry Jones told jurors that Billie Jean Phillips put up a prolonged fight with her killer that ripped two nails from her fingers.

Forensic biologist Kermit Channell testified he found only Clint Phillips' and Billie Jean Phillips' DNA under her nails. It's highly unlikely the killer's DNA wouldn't show up after such a death struggle, Channell said.

Jones rested his case Wednesday, but not before calling Clint Phillips' friend Carson Avery.

Avery testified Clint Phillips told her more than she wanted to know a year ago when he said he saw Billie Jean Phillips slain.

"He said he was there, he watched it, but didn't actually murder her," Avery testified.

Ex-girlfriends Courtney Klein and Chastity Johnson testified Wednesday that Clint Phillips never abused or choked them.

Klein said she found Clint Phillips sleeping at a friend's home the morning of Sept. 3, 1994. He was asleep on his back after a night of heavy drinking, she said. Two days later, Klein saw scratches on Clint Phillips' back.

"He tried to tell me he fell or something," Klein testified. "But there was no other conclusion: They were sex scratches."

Police testified Tuesday that Billie Jean Phillips was likely slain between 10:30 p.m. on Sept. 2, 1994, and 6:30 a.m. the next morning.

On Wednesday, Shannon Edmisten testified that she saw Billie Jean Phillips leave the Ozark Shoppe, which she owned and operated, about 10:45 p.m. on Sept. 2, 1994. She followed Edmisten's vehicle for about 15 minutes, then turned off a side road toward her Alabam home.

Clint Phillips said in the TV interview that he and Billie Jean Phillips had sex between 7 p.m. and midnight on Sept. 2, 1994. He said he couldn't remember details because he drank alcohol that night. In fact, Clint Phillips was arrested for DWI and released from the Madison County jail about 7 p.m. on Sept. 2, 1994, jail records show.

Jones told jurors during jury selection Tuesday that voluntary intoxication isn't a legal defense to a crime.

Heather Harp testified Wednesday that she, Clint Phillips and his sister, Angela Head, left Madison County for the Washington County fair about 11 p.m. on Sept. 2, 1994. They returned to Madison County about 2 a.m., Harp said.

Head on Wednesday confirmed Harp's account.

Clint Phillips said in the TV interview that authorities anxious to please Billie Jean Phillips' family falsely arrested him for murder.

"Someone out there murdered that lady, and they're trying to push it off on me," he said. "I'm the best they've got. It's ridiculous. I've done some things in my life, but I would never hurt a human being."

Attorney Joel Huggins is expected to rest the defense's case this morning.

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