Judge Sentences Jessie Phillips To Death Penalty

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GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - A Marshall County judge sentenced Jessie Phillips to the death penalty Thursday morning.

Phillips, 32, of Albertville, was convicted in June of killing his wife, who was eight weeks pregnant.  Erica Droze Phillips and her unborn child died in February 2009.

The murder took place at a Guntersville car wash.

The couple's two young children and Droze Phillips' brother Billy were present at the time of the shooting.

The jury unanimously recommended the death penalty for Phillips.

"We appreciate the fact [Judge Tim Riley] followed the recommendation of the jury," district attorney Steve Marshall said.

"You had a defendant and her child that were killed, unprovoked, without any protection, and a defendant that expressed, even until today, no remorse over what happened," he said.

"I don't think the judge had any other choice and I appreciate the fact that he followed the law and imposed the sentence of death," Marshall said.

This is the first murder case in the state to implement Brody's Law, passed by the Alabama legislature in 2006.

It allows for the prosecution of two murders in the killing of a pregnant woman.

The law stems for the 2005 shooting death in Albertville of 23-year-old Brandy Parker and her unborn son, whom she planned to name Brody.

"The fact that [this first case] happened in Marshall County I think speaks to the purpose of the bill that was passed in the first place, for the death of Brandy Parker," Marshall said.

Prosecutors said they believe they upheld and vindicated Parker's death, as a killer was never found.

Marshall said if it was not for the legislation which followed her murder, they could not have pursued a capital case or death sentence for Jessie Phillips.

"We hope that it's some solace for Brandy's family along with the family of Erica and Baby Doe, and believe this case establishes the idea pretty clearly that we're going to protect the unborn as well as those that are born," he said.

Defense attorney Bruce Gardner said Phillips plans to appeal, but he will find new attorneys to represent him in that process.

Although this will be the first appeal of a Brody's Law case, Marshall said he is confident the conviction and sentence will be upheld.

"The legislature has made very clear that an unborn child has the protections of an adult in a situation of violent crimes," he said.

"We feel comfortable, it's been held up in other states, and we think it will be upheld in this state," said Marshall.

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