Accused body dumper denied lower bail
The man accused of helping to dump and burn a body until it was unrecognizable was back in court Tuesday.
Shawn Phillips, 49, and his attorney Brad Carlson went before Judge Michael Corey to fight for lower bail, which was previously set at $100,000 cash.
Phillips is one of six people charged in the death of Weston Gladney.
Gladney’s body was discovered in the Jim Creek area, a popular Mat-Su recreation spot, back in December 2017.
Troopers said Gladney’s body was so badly burned that he could only be identified by a single thumbprint. An autopsy later revealed that he had been killed earlier by a shot to the chest.
While Phillips isn’t suspected of pulling the trigger, during his Tuesday bail hearing, state prosecutor Kevin Bergt alleged that Phillips was contracted to dispose of the victim’s body by taking it to Palmer, dumping it on a trail and lighting it on fire.
“Mr. Phillips is literally the guy you call when you want to dispose of a human body. Weston Gladney was lured into a garage and executed. The murderers weren’t able to get rid of the body so they called Mr. Phillips to do it for them,” Bergt said.
What lead up to Gladney’s death is a complicated web that resulted in the arrests of then 31-year-old Jeffrey Enosa, 56-year-old Brian Sheele, 42-year-old Joseph Ahuna and 34-year-old Paulette Kane, who are all charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
Additionally 27-year-old Helen Them is charged with manslaughter.
Phillips faces a tampering with evidence charge but his attorney says Phillips should not be held to the same standard as his co-defendants.
Carlson argued his client should be released to live with a third party while wearing an ankle monitor, and that his bail should be reduced to $10,000 cash corporate. That would allow Phillips to take out a bail loan, essentially making it so he would only need to put up $1,000 to get out of jail.
“What I would like to you to consider is that Shawn is charged with a Class C felony. He has been in jail for a year. The court has denied his motion to sever. He is tied to five unclassified felony co-defendants,” Carlson said to the judge. “If bail is not granted with a third party, an ankle monitor and cash corporate bond then Shawn could sit in jail and be time served by the time this thing ever sees a courtroom.”
Carlson also argued that there is no direct evidence linking Phillips to the case.
The state, however, expressed additional concerns with Phillips' ability to reach out and contact witnesses.
Bergt says the state plans to pursue a witness tampering charge against Philips after a key witness to the crime recanted her statement to the District Attorney’s Office.
“Ms. Daniels testified, told police investigators that she observed Phillips loading the body into the back of a truck. He asked her, 'Do I need to dig another hole for you?' In other words, implying that she needed to keep her mouth shut. That’s what she testified to, that’s what she told investigators,” Bergt said.
In court, Bergt confirmed that Daniel’s later changed her testimony.
“The DOC intercepted a letter from Mr. Phillips to a friend who was also in custody saying that the best witness he has is Ms. Daniels and that she went into the D.A.’s office and recanted. Which is true. She came in and she recanted and offered us a recant letter. Now we can’t find her and neither can Mr. Carlson’s investigator apparently. Call me crazy but maybe there is something to that.”
Ultimately, the judge denied Phillips’ bail request, saying that the proposed third party was not an appropriate choice.
Phillips and his co-defendants are currently scheduled to stand trial early next year.
Copyright 2018 KTVA. All rights reserved.