BEDFORD – Opening statements and testimony will begin Wednesday morning in the murder trial of Phillip “Butch” Deckard in Lawrence County Superior Court I.
Judge John Plummer III will preside.
The trial will be streamed live at this link beginning at 8:30 a.m.
Deckard also faces charges of aggravated battery when the assault poses a substantial risk of death, reckless homicide, involuntary manslaughter, and domestic battery by means of a deadly weapon.
Deckard, 58, is accused of shooting and killing his girlfriend Charlene Silvers after a domestic dispute on Wednesday, August 26, 2020, at the home the couple shared at 2738 Maul Ridge Road. Officials say Deckard and Silvers had a 13 year relationship.
On that day at approximately 1:56 p.m., Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department Central Dispatch received a call to report a traffic accident. The caller reported they were in a traffic accident on State Road 158 with a Ford Focus, which fled the scene. According to the caller, the other driver stated he was trying to get his female passenger, who suffered a gunshot wound, to the hospital.
At approximately 2:03 p.m. IU Health Bedford Hospital called dispatch to advise a female arrived at the emergency department with a gunshot wound to the abdomen.
A Lawrence County Sheriff’s deputy arrived at IU Health to find Deckard in blood covered hands and clothes sitting in a wheelchair.
Deckard told the deputy, “My girlfriend got shot.”
When questioned by the officer, Deckard explained the cause of the blood on him was due to him helping Silvers into the vehicle. He further stated she was shot and confirmed it was an accident.
Deckard told the officer that he and Silvers had argued that morning. Deckard was in possession of a pistol until Silvers took it from him. Silvers shot the pistol at Deckard and then proceeded to set the residence on fire.
The argument continued inside the residence where Deckard obtained a .223 rifle. At that time an altercation occurred that resulted in Silvers shoving Deckard backward. Deckard stated the shove caused the gun to accidentally fire.
Deckard also told police he and Silvers’ argument lasted all day and resulted in both taking part in breaking personal items inside the residence. He then stated Silvers poured gasoline from the living room to the bedroom and set the bedroom on fire.
Silvers then allegedly retrieved a .25 caliber semi-automatic handgun.
According to Deckard, Silvers fired fired two rounds at him but apparently wasn’t trying to hit him. She then threw the gun in a mud puddle.
It was at that time, Deckard said he picked up an AR 15 rifle from inside the residence. Deckard then restated Silvers knocked him backward but didn’t recall how Silvers was shot.
Police say Deckard is 5’08” tall and weighs 200 pounds and Silvers is 5’08” tall and weighs 128 pounds.
After further questioning, Deckard stated Silvers hit him in the past, but he always refrained to hit her back.
Deckard continued to state that he would never shoot her, that it was an accident, and he had never pointed the rifle at Silvers.
Prior to transporting Silvers by helicopter to another hospital, the deputy spoke with the conscious Silvers.
Silvers stated there was an argument and Deckard shot her with an assault rifle. When the deputy asked if the shooting was an accident, Silvers shook her head no.
When police arrived to investigate the crime scene, they found the home in disarray with personal items disheveled inside and outside the home, numerous broken windows and evidence of a fire being started within the residence.
A large amount, of what appeared to be blood, was located on the front porch and just inside the front door.
Police located one .223 caliber spent shell casing on the front porch and two .223 caliber spent shell casings located just inside the front door on the floor. Two more .223 caliber spent shell casings were located on the living room floor.
The rifle and the handgun were found near another one on the living room floor.
Numerous exit holes, of what appear to be bullet holes, were located in various locations around the residence.
A neighbor claimed they heard four or five gunshots coming from the home Deckard and Silvers shared.
Silvers was pronounced dead on Thursday, August 27, 2020, at 7:24 p.m.
The neighbor said there were two initial shots, a short pause, and then two more consecutive shots. About five to ten minutes after hearing the shots, they heard a car pulling out of a driveway.
Pathologist Dr. John Cavanaugh performed an autopsy on Silvers. He said Silvers was possibly shot by two bullets, but it was probable one bullet could have caused Silvers’ injuries.
One bullet wound was to Silver’s left arm, breaking both the radius and ulna bones in her forearm. A second bullet entry was found on Silver’s left side between the seventh and tenth rib and entered her stomach.