(CNN) — A pilot for a subsidiary of American Airlines was arrested Saturday at Louisville International Airport after he was charged in the 2015 deaths of a Kentucky couple and their neighbor, authorities said.
Christian Richard Martin, 51, is accused of killing Calvin and Pamela Phillips and Edward Dansereau in November 2015, according to Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear.
Calvin Phillips was found shot to death in his Pembroke, Kentucky home on or about November 18, 2015, Beshear said in a statement. The bodies of his wife and Dansereau were found a few miles away in a corn field in Pamela Phillips’ burned up car.
A Christian County grand jury indicted Martin on Friday on three counts of murder; one count of arson; one count of attempted burglary in the first degree; and three counts of tampering with physical evidence. The indictment was sealed until he was taken into custody, Beshear said.
Martin’s family is devastated, said Tucker Richardson, Martin’s former lawyer. He vouched for Martin’s character and said Martin would have turned himself in if he had known authorities intended to arrest him.
The victims’ relatives welcomed the news.
“Every day, we are haunted by what was done to them and haunted further that someone was still free to do as they wish, beyond the civility of mankind or laws of our nation,” they said in a statement through Beshear’s office.
“We look forward to justice in court, and we look forward to a verdict to bring an end to this terror, and a fresh start at healing.”
Victim may have been expected to testify against his accused killer
John Kelly, a representative for the Phillips family, said Calvin Phillips was due to testify against Martin in a court case in 2015 when they were killed.
Richardson countered that notion by claiming he hired an investigator to interview Calvin Phillips. The private investigator determined Calvin Phillips would be a star witness for Martin’s side, Richardson said.
“If there is a poster child for ‘life is not fair,’ it would be a picture of Kit Martin,” Richardson said. “They took a fine man and drug him through the mud.”
‘Like something in a movie’
At the Louisville airport where Martin was arrested, passengers expressed shock, according to CNN affiliate WDRB.
Ashley Martin and her mother Frances Wise were waiting to board an American Airlines flight from Louisville to Charlotte when they heard their pilot had been arrested.
“It was like something you would totally see in a movie,” Martin — no relation to the accused — said.
“It was very tense,” her mother told WDRB. “You could tell the employees knew something was going on.”
The women assumed their pilot had been intoxicated and learned of the reason for his arrest later in the day.
“It’s startling,” said Martin. “It’s scary to think this happened so long ago, and they’re just now getting around to catching the guy.”
AG says case shows importance of seeking justice
Beshear said he accepted a request from the local commonwealth’s attorney two years ago to appoint a special prosecutor to the case after the family’s son had expressed concern that investigations had stalled.
“I hope this is a day that brings some justice to these families,” he said “There are many steps from here, but we hope this is one example of when you never stop seeking justice, when you never give up, that we can truly get important results for these families.”
Martin moved from Christian County after the murders and was living in North Carolina at the time of the indictment. He is being held without bond and will be returned to Christian County to await trial, Beshear said.
American Airlines says Martin was a pilot for regional subsidiary PSA Airlines.
“All of us at American Airlines and PSA Airlines are deeply saddened to have learned about these allegations from 2015. Our team was made aware of the indictment this morning after his arrest at Louisville International Airport,” it said in a statement.
“We have an unwavering commitment to the safety and security of our customers and team members, and we will provide any investigative assistance possible to law enforcement throughout their investigation.”
The airline said Martin has been placed on administrative suspension pending the outcome of the investigation and court proceedings, which includes the suspension of all travel privileges.
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