December 23, 2014

Elyria
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Judge OKs plea deal that hinges on lie detector test

Brady Phillips at a preliminary hearing in 2010. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

Brady Phillips at a preliminary hearing in 2010. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

ELYRIA — A county judge has ruled that Brady Phillips can take a plea deal that will see him serve a 14-year prison sentence for his role in a botched 2009 robbery that left two men dead — provided he takes and passes a lie detector test this month.

Prosecutors have objected to letting Phillips take the plea bargain in the case and even Phillips’ attorney, Brian Darling, has said his client doesn’t want to take the deal.

“We have advised the state of Ohio that Brady will not take a 14-year sentence,” Darling said after Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Mark Betleski handed down his ruling Monday.

Phillips faces murder, aggravated robbery and other charges in the case, which could send Phillips to prison for life if he is convicted at trial.

He is accused of being one of two robbers who forced their way into a David Drive apartment on Dec. 20, 2009, searching for cash and prescription drugs they believed were kept in a safe there.

According to police, the two alleged robbers, Phillips and Hermino Serrano, herded the occupants of the apartment into a back bedroom and demanded that Michael Stump, one of the residents, open the safe.

Serrano pistol-whipped Stump, according to police and prosecutors, and during the struggle that followed Serrano allegedly shot Stump in the head. A second occupant of the apartment, David McDonough, was shot in the stomach, but managed to get a gun and shoot Serrano several times, killing him.

Phillips allegedly fled the apartment, and Stump died from his injuries the next day.

After Phillips was arrested and charged in the case, his attorneys tried to work out a plea deal for him.

According to Betleski’s ruling, Phillips agreed to a work with prosecutors to implicate a third person in the robbery. But that would have required the cooperation of his wife, who was supposed to wear a wire to gather information, something she refused to do.

Betleski ruled that because the testimony of Phillips and his wife wouldn’t have been enough to see charges filed against the unidentified third person, Phillips hadn’t lived up to his end of the bargain, which would have seen him serve six years behind bars.

However, Betleski did find that Phillips had substantially complied with a second deal that saw him work with Lorain police to help solve the June 2009 drive-by shooting of Marquis McCall by wearing a wire while in the Lorain County Jail and talking to suspect Raymond Fowler.

Betleski wrote that Phillips followed through on that, although the information Phillips brought back didn’t match some of the details police later learned from other sources.

Although Phillips cooperated in the McCall case, Betleski wrote he still has to fulfill his obligation to take a lie detector test in order to be fully in compliance with the deal that would see him eligible for the 14-year sentence.

He gave Phillips until March 20 to complete the polygraph examination.

Prosecutors argued that Phillips hadn’t lived up to his end of the bargain and that the deal was never put into writing. Betleski, however, ruled that there was no requirement that the deal be in writing for it to be enforceable.

Darling said his client believes he fulfilled his obligations under both agreements and should receive a substantially shorter prison sentence.

“Brady and I are disappointed because we believe he has performed all the promises and conditions of the agreement and the state should honor the six-year deal,” Darling said.

He said he is looking into whether he can appeal Betleski’s ruling.

County Prosecutor Dennis Will said he still needs to review the decision before he can decide if he needs to take any further action.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.