Doctors testify in Phillip Deckard murder trial

BEDFORD – The defense began presenting their case today in the murder trial of Phillip “Butch” Deckard in Lawrence County Superior Court I.

Judge John Plummer III is presiding.

Phillip “Butch” Deckard

You can view the trial via live-stream at this link.

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. Silvers died from her injuries on Thursday, August 27, 2020, at 7:24 p.m.

Charlene Silvers

Lawrence County Prosecutor Sam Arp and Chief Deputy Prosecutor Allison Chopra are presenting the case for the state.

Martinsville Attorney John Boren and Tonisha Jarrett are defending Deckard.

Attorney Boren called two witnesses this morning Dr. Kimberly Benham, an emergency room doctor at IU Health Hospital, and Dr. John Cavanaugh a forensic pathologist.

Dr. Benham testified to her emergency physician progress notes.

She treated Silvers when she arrived in the emergency room with a gunshot wound on August 26, 2020. She was transported to the hospital by Deckard in his vehicle.

Dr. Silvers was issued a subpoena and ordered by Judge Plummer to testify due to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). HIPAA is a federal law that required the creation of national standards to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge.

Dr. Benham read to the jury from her progress notes. Silvers had suffered a gunshot wound to her left arm and left side of her abdomen.

Silvers told Dr. Benham that she worked 25 hours a week at the Living Room Center putting together furniture.

She also noted in her notes that Silvers said she used marijuana about two times a month.

Dr. Benham said Silvers told her she was shot on purpose by her boyfriend and then changed her story and said the shooting was an accident.

“I don’t recall her exact words,” Dr. Benham testified. “It is documented in my notes and I do that with the most accuracy I can. She stated this was purposefully then stated this was an accident and that is what I noted. I have a duty to make my report as accurate as possible.”

Next to testify was Forensic Pathologist Dr. John Cavanaugh. He testified about performing the autopsy on Silvers and her toxicology report.

Dr. Cavanaugh testified that high levels of meth were found in Silvers’ blood.

Attorney Boren asked if the meth level found in Silvers’ blood could have been fatal.

Dr. Cavanaugh replied, “In others, it could have been the cause of death.”

He also testified that meth use can cause unexpected strength, paranoia, excitability, hallucinations, and aggressiveness.

However, Dr. Cavanaugh testified meth was not a contributing factor in Silvers’ death.

He also testified that Silvers most likely had her arm across her abdomen when she was shot.

“The exit wound from the arm lined up with the entrance wound to the abdomen,” Dr. Cavanaugh said.

Dr. Cavanaugh testified during cross-examination that Silvers did have defensive wounds to her forearm.

The defense then rest.

The attorneys will now present closing arguments and jury instructions.