Anyone familiar with the facts of the Pembroke triple homicides knows that two or more people were involved in the crime. Even the prosecution knew that. First, the original indictment was that Christian Martin committed the murders either alone or in complicity with others. The investigation, however, never turned up another individual, at least no other individual tied to their prime suspect. Both Laura Spencer and Austin Spencer were considered possible accomplices at one time. It was a good example of investigators trying to fit the evidence to match a specific theory and discarding evidence that pointed elsewhere.
So, what evidence is there that two or more individuals were involved? As for Calvin Phillips, there is no evidence that more than one person is responsible for his murder. That calculus changes when Ed Dansereau and Pam Phillips are murdered. First, Calvin was shot with a 45-caliber gun. Both Ed and Pam were shot by a 22 caliber gun. There aren’t many crimes where one individual uses two different guns to commit a crime. It could be argued that since the murders of Calvin and Ed and Pam occurred at different times of the day that perhaps the person responsible simply brought a different gun on the second visit. We’ll give that 50/50 odds for that possibility.
Next, two bodies were loaded into Pam’s car. Ed Dansereau was over six feet tall. Let’s say he weighed between 180 and 200 pounds. It’s not impossible, but it would have been extremely difficult for one person. The odds of one person loading the bodies into the car might be 40/60.
The next set of facts is even harder to overlook. Two vehicles were driven from the crime scene – Pam’s car and Ed Dansereau’s car. The plan was to find an isolated place to burn the evidence. That plan fell apart, however, when Pam’s car got stuck in the mud. The driver missed the turn in the road. Once the car became stuck in the mud, the plans changed to setting the car on fire right there. It was dark outside. It was 1:35 in the morning on an unlit dirt road. The driver of Pam’s car now has to spread kerosene all over the interior and exterior of the car. They don’t want to leave shoe prints or boot imprints in the mud. It makes sense that the only light available was the light from the headlights of the second vehicle. The two vehicles with their lights on caught the attention of neighbor Earl Jet’s German Shepherd, which started barking at around 1:50 am. Since there is no evidence of a kerosene container at the scene, that means the arsonist had to take it with them. The prosecution had an explanation for all of this, but it strains credulity. The odds of one person setting the car on fire in the dark and taking the kerosene container or containers with them on foot are maybe 30/70.
Finally, there is the cell phone tower data. How is it possible for one person, Kit, to be traveling south while the victim’s phone is traveling east? The odds for that are zero. The prosecution tried to explain that away as well. Kit worked for a cell phone company and knew all about cell phone towers. Once again the prosecution tried to fit the evidence to match their theory. But even when Barbara Whaley gives her bizarre theory of the crime in her closing argument, her theory doesn’t hold up when you consider that when Kit and his phone were at home, Pam’s phone was hitting off a cell tower even further east than Elkton, where the phone was eventually recovered.
The evening before closing arguments, Doug Moore requested a special hearing after the jury had been excused. Doug asked for a directed verdict. A directed verdict is when a judge rules on a case before it is given to the jury. Directed verdicts are rarely granted, but when they are, it is because the prosecution failed to meet its burden of proof. Judge Atkins, whose rulings almost always favored the prosecution, wasn’t about to do that, but he did have some concerns about the complicity charges in the original indictment. He eventually ruled that the prosecution could not use complicity for jury instructions. It meant that Barbara Whaley now had to explain the unexplainable.
Listen carefully to Barbara Whaley as she begins defending the complicity charges. She trails off before listing all of the circumstantial evidence pointing to multiple perpetrators. It’s as if she realized in the middle of her argument that she is unable to prove her case without an accomplice.