Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Woman Convicted Of Drunken Driving Murder Wants New Trial
Lori Phillips' attorney, Rex Butler, says anti-drunken driving ads biased jury
ANCHORAGE—The 57-year-old Anchorage woman convicted of killing a young father while driving drunk wants a new trial. It's all because of a public service announcement against drunken driving featuring Forget Me Not spokesperson Nancy Bidwell, whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver.
It's a compelling story that Lori Phillips’ attorney Rex Butler says was really a subliminal message that gave his client an unfair trial and “poisoned” the jury.
Butler said the PSA was aired on television more times than was necessary as Phillips stood trial for the drunken-driving second-degree murder of 23-year-old Louis Clement.
“This particular ad aired over 1,400 times on 56 cable channels for two weeks,” Butler said.
Bidwell also sat in the courtroom during the trial and, because of that, Butler said jurors had already made up their minds before hearing the facts.
“You got these people sitting in the courtroom throughout the trial and then at night when you go home, you turn on television, there is no way to avoid that ad,” Butler said.
Bidwell said her message had nothing to do with Phillips' trial.
“Using my PSA as an excuse is ridiculous,” Bidwell said. “I’m really upset about it. It’s real important that these messages keep going, because for one thing we don't want the victims forgotten.”
The state says Phillips was given her due process and a fair trial.
“It’s our hope and expectation that the sentencing will take place,” said prosecutor Clint Campion. “We believe that the jurors were able to follow the instructions through the trial and did follow instructions and based their decision on the evidence presented in the trial.”
As the PSA continues to air, whether it affects the outcome of a drunken driving trial remains to be seen.
Bidwell says she and her husband were in the courtroom of the Phillips trial to give their support to the victim's family. The state says that is common with victim's advocates because trials are open to the public.
This issue of a retrial will be argued on July 22 in front of Judge Philip Volland.
Philips is facing anywhere between 10 to 99 years behind bars.