On November 2, 2015, a little more than two weeks before the murders, private investigators Michael Conzachi and Mary Martins secretly recorded Calvin Phillips and Joan Martin. The recordings were legal under Kentucky’s one-party notification law, which allows the recording of a third party if at least two people are aware that the conversation is being recorded.
The first recording occurred on Calvin Phillips’ front porch. Mike and Mary did what could be considered an ambush-style interview. They were hoping to get more information from Calvin about his involvement with the laptop and computer disks for which Kit was facing charges of mishandling classified materials. There were two issues. The first issue concerned the different stories about how and where the laptop and disks were found. Calvin claimed that he first saw the laptop and computer disks as he was helping Joan move items from the house. He said that he saw the items in the den and confiscated them. Joan’s story is that she was staying at the shelter and it was getting cold, so she wanted to get her mother’s quilts, which were in a Rubbermaid container in Calvin’s warehouse. She claims that the computer and disks were found under the quilts. Another issue Mike and Mary hoped to clear up was why it took Calvin six weeks from the time he discovered the computer and disks until he turned them over to the FBI. Lastly, they wanted to confront Calvin about his alleged affair with Joan.
The second clandestine recording occurred at the L & R Soda Bar where Joan was working. The plan was for Mike and Mary to concoct a story about Mary coming to Kentucky to rescue her daughter from an abusive husband who also happened to be a soldier at Ft. Campbell. The hope was to engage Joan and get her talking about how to get military benefits. The plan worked. I won’t editorialize the conversation. You can judge for yourself Joan’s truthfulness or lack thereof.
There were a couple of revelations in Joan’s secretly recorded conversation. One happened toward the end of the audio. It has to do with Joan’s impression of the expected outcome of the court-martial trial. In an effort to exact her revenge against Kit, she accused him of sexual assault. She made the accusation months after she accused him of molesting her children and physically abusing EJ. If Kit was found guilty of all charges, he faced a combined sentence of 58 years behind bars. What Joan didn’t know, and couldn’t know because the JAG prosecutors were too afraid to tell her, was that the prosecutors planned to drop the sexual assault charges before trial, deeming Joan an unreliable witness.
The second revelation uncovered was that Joan admits to knowing how to game the system. She knew what steps to take to exact her revenge on Kit for asking for a divorce long before she issued her threat to ruin his life and career.
That is the circumstances surrounding these audio recordings. After several delays and rescheduled dates, the court-martial was just weeks away. Calvin still hadn’t been served a subpoena to testify, and Joan was counting down the days until she could personally hammer the last nail into Kit’s coffin.
Several witnesses testified at the murder trial that Calvin was nervous in the weeks before his planned testimony. According to those witnesses, he feared that Kit would seek some kind of retaliation. See the post The First Nail in the Coffin. That is a reasonable fear to have knowing the background even though Kit never issued a threat. It’s also possible that Calvin’s fear had more to do with the knowledge that some embarrassing personal information was about to be made public.
There is a rumor, which I have been unable to independently verify, that one or two days after these secret recordings Calvin went to the L & R Soda Bar to confront Joan. I have heard from two different people who have some knowledge that this did occur. What was the confrontation about? According to witnesses, the argument between the two escalated to the point where they had to take the conversation outside.
Remember, everything you hear in the clips below was recorded just two weeks before the murders. If you have any information related to the confrontation between Joan and Calvin at the L & R Soda Bar, please contact me.
Audio courtesy Michael Conzachi