BEDFORD – The jury began deliberating in the trial of Phillip “Butch” Deckard in Lawrence County Superior Court II Monday afternoon.
Judge John Plummer III is presiding.
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.
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.
Before closing arguments, the defense requested the jury be able to view all the evidence in the case and handle the rifle and pull the trigger if they wanted and Judge Plummer agreed.
“I will allow the jury to come into the courtroom during deliberations to view the evidence and handle the gun,” said Judge Plummer. “However, there will be a deputy in the room with them while they do this. He will not be allowed to speak to the members of the jury.”
During closing arguments, Prosecutor Sam Arp told the jury Deckard never apologized for injuring or killing Silvers.
“Did you ever hear an apology?” Arp asked the jurors. “In any of his statements does he ever ask to see Charlene Silvers? In her dying declaration, she said this was not an accident. This was murder.”
Prosecutor Apr reviewed all the evidence with the jury.
He stressed Deckard knowingly shot and killed Charlene Silvers.
“She was trying to leave,” he added. “She had her suitcase packed and items gathered for her dog. You heard testimony that they were no more than 3 feet apart when she was shot. A gun does not function without someone handling it. The magazine has to be loaded, the ammo has to be chambered, the safety has to be released, the gun aimed and the triggered pulled.”
Attorney Boren addressed the jurors next.
He said Dr. Kimberly Benham noted Charlene Silvers’ last dying declaration.
“No one wants to go see St. Peter with a lie on their lips,” Boren told the jury. “Her last declaration was this was an accident.”
He told the jury he would like to ask Charlene Silvers – just how angry were you?
Boren went over the actions of Silvers on August 26, 2020.
She destroyed the kitchen area of the trailer, she threw the television on the porch, she fired shots at Deckard, and she set the trailer on fire.
“At no time did anyone prevent her from leaving the home,” said Boren. “She was in and out of that home numerous times.”
During interviews, Deckard asked Detective Jim Slone numerous times to speak to Silvers and said she would say the shooting was accidental. Boren feels Deckard was protecting Silvers because of her drug use.
Silvers also had a toxic level of methamphetamine in her system making her irrational.
After the shooting, Deckard wrapped a towel around Silver’s arm in an attempt to stop the bleeding. He “scooped her up” and put her in the vehicle and rushed her to the hospital to get help.
“If he wanted to murder her, he wouldn’t have done that,” said Boren. “He had no intention of killing her. If he did he would have left her there to die.”
The jury was then given instructions and began deliberation at 3:17 p.m.