6 in court on charges connected to Superior homicide
Court proceedings stemming from the shooting death of a Superior man inundated the Douglas County Courthouse on Monday. Six cases were heard in three courtrooms, spanning most of the day. The parents of the victim, Garth Velin, attended every one...
Court proceedings stemming from the shooting death of a Superior man inundated the Douglas County Courthouse on Monday. Six cases were heard in three courtrooms, spanning most of the day. The parents of the victim, Garth Velin, attended every one. By the end of the day, the first trial had been set.
Teah Joan Phillips, 17, faces a charge of party to felony murder in the fatal shooting of 20-year-old Velin on Sept. 30. Velin was shot in the entryway to his home in Superior’s Allouez neighborhood. Phillips’ attorney, James Babbitt, waived the reading of the complaint and filed a demand for speedy trial during her arraignment Monday. When asked for her plea, Phillips declined to respond.
“She wishes to stand mute at this time,” Babbitt said, and a not-guilty plea was entered on her behalf. Her two-day trial is set to begin Jan. 27.
Phillips’ mother, Alaysha Serene Phillips, 43, made an initial appearance in court half an hour later. She faces a felony charge of aiding a felon and a misdemeanor charge of obstructing an officer. She is accused of providing false information to Superior police and hiding her daughter’s cellphone, which was wanted for evidence.
According to the criminal complaint, Alaysha Phillips told an officer she did not know where the phone was.
However, a search of jail phone calls turned up one in which Teah Phillips told her mother that so long as “that thing” is in the house, it’s safe because the police will not conduct another search of the house. During the call, her mother agreed and said it’s safe. A subsequent search warrant turned up the cellphone in the glove box of Alaysha Phillips’ car.
The Superior woman remains free on a $1,000 signature bond; her daughter, a former Superior High School student, remains free after posting $50,000 cash bail.
Also on Monday, three men were bound over for arraignment in relation to the case. Judge Kelly Thimm found probable cause to believe each committed a felony.
“My take on the evidence at the prelim was that this is a good, strong case right out of the chute,” Douglas County District Attorney Dan Blank said after the proceedings.
Chance William Andrews, 17, of Superior faces a felony murder charge. Duluth residents Kyham Lavon Dunn, 20, and Dallas Eugene Robinson, 19, each face party to felony murder charges. The three clustered around a single table Monday, separated by attorneys.
Teah Phillips told Detective Chris Moe that Andrews called and asked her to pick him up in Duluth along with Dunn, Robinson and Robinson’s brother Kane, 20. She said the plan was to go to Velin’s house to get money. Kane Robinson told the others that Velin would have either money or marijuana in the house, Phillips said. Instead, Velin died in the entryway to his home. Moe testified that two bullets and two shell casings were recovered from the scene.
Velin’s mother sobbed quietly in the courtroom while Superior police officer Michelle Lear testified about the results of her son’s autopsy. According to Lear, the barrel of the gun was in close contact with Velin’s chest when it was fired, leaving soot and bruising around the wound. The autopsy results don’t match Dallas Robinson’s recounting of events, Blank said.
Dallas Robinson told Detective Mike Jaszczak the five of them planned to go to Velin’s house to see if he would front them - loan them - some marijuana. He told Jaszczak that Andrews walked directly into the house without knocking and he heard somebody say “get down on the ground” twice. Robinson heard a commotion like wrestling, the thud of something hitting the wall and then a gun going off.
While he appreciated that both Dallas Robinson and Teah Phillips have cooperated in interviews with police, Blank said, “We don’t have the whole truth.” The district attorney isn’t accepting their claims that they had no idea that anything criminal was going to happen. They parked a block away from Velin’s home and Teah Phillips went out first as a scout to knock on his door to make sure Velin was home before the others left the car, Blank said. That is criminal, secretive behavior, not the actions of friends stopping by, Blank added.
“I think that there’s just a lot of pieces that will need to be put together, but the police department’s off to a great start piecing it together,” Blank said.
Kane Robinson of Duluth was scheduled for his arraignment Monday. Instead, he requested a new attorney. The public defender’s office is making calls trying to find him one, said Kane Robinson’s outgoing attorney, Lance Nelsen. His arraignment was rescheduled for Dec. 3, the same day as his brother’s. Dunn and Andrews will make their next court appearances on Dec. 4.
Although hearings have been scheduled together so far, that will change. If no deals are reached and the cases continue on to trial, they will be separate.
“I think each defendant should face the music on their own,” Blank said.