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Percy Phillips trial: Commonwealth not seeking retrial for 30-year-old case

The judge has called it a mistrial. Phillips is charged with killing a Louisville gas station clerk in 1993, a crime another man had been wrongly convicted of.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Commonwealth's Attorney released a statement saying they are not seeking a retrial against Percy Phillips unless new evidence becomes apparent.

A Louisville jury was tasked with deciding the fate of Percy Phillips, who is charged with shooting and killing a Louisville gas station attendant in 1993.

However, the jury couldn't come to a decision and the judge called it a mistrial. They will reconvene in May according to prosecutor Mark Baker.

In a statement, Baker said:

On behalf of the trial team, I want to thank everyone who worked so hard to pursue justice for Brenda Whitfield and her family. We respect the work of the jury and in the coming weeks, my office will be making a decision regarding prosecuting a second trial.

During the sixth day of his trial, attorneys presented their closing arguments for both sides, making their final pleas before handing the case off to the jury to decide Phillips' fate.

The wrong man was initially convicted of the nearly 30-year-old case. After more than a decade in prison, Edwin Chandler was exonerated in 2009, thanks to new evidence and testimony which found LMPD had made major errors in the case.

RELATED: Mother of 1993 murder suspect takes the stand, says man depicted in surveillance video does not look like her son

To close, the prosecution honed in on fingerprints found on a bottle of alcohol from the gas station. 

"The bottle was set on the counter by the killer," Baker said. "The killer left his prints on the bottle, the killer was Percy Phillips." 

However, the defense argued that since the security footage from the day is mostly gone, those prints could have been left at any time.

"The Commonwealth is going to say 'what are the chances, what are the chances that John Gray says it's this guy, circles this picture and it ends up being the guy's fingerprints are on the bottle,'" said Julie Mudd, an attorney for the defense. "This case of full of crazy coincidences." 

Mudd said neither Phillips nor Edwin Chandler committed the crime, pointing to pressure on police to make an arrest.

"I understand police overreach," she said. "And that's what was going on in Mr. Chandler's case and that's what is going on still." 

Prosecutors also acknowledged the role that previous misconduct played in the case but doubled down on Chandler's innocence and Phillips' alleged guilt.

"At the end of the day based on all the evidence the Commonwealth believes beyond any reasonable doubt that it has proved to you beyond a reasonable doubt who put that bullet in her head," prosecutor Mark Baker said. 

The jury began deliberating shortly after 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. It is unknown how long they will deliberate before returning a verdict.


In 1995, Edwin Chandler was falsely accused of murdering 25-year-old Brenda Whitfield, a cashier at a Louisville Chevron gas station, two years earlier.

Surveillance video from the gas station was a key piece of evidence Louisville Police looked at, however, the security footage had been recorded and taped over by mistake.

LMPD detectives were left with only photos from the security footage.

Witnesses at the scene described the murder suspect as heavy set and about 5’8”. But police still narrowed in on Chandler – despite witnesses not picking him out of a photo lineup and Chandler being over six feet tall.

Chandler was exonerated in 2009.

During the Phillips trial, Chandler took the stand told the court about Det. Mark Handy's role in his false confession. Handy, who was accused of framing several innocent people for crimes they didn't commit, plead guilty to perjury and tampering with evidence in 2021.

"Officer Handy got upset about it, he told me I was lying," Chandler testified. "He said my mother wouldn't appreciate the fact...that I was lying and trying to wiggle out of the situation."

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