St. Clair County man acquitted after stabbing son with scissors

News-DemocratJanuary 30, 2014 

A St. Clair County jury acquitted a man on Wednesday of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and a domestic battery after police said that he stabbed his son in the neck with a pair of scissors.

Police arrested Charles L. Phillips, 57, of 5742 Memory Lane near Belleville, after responding to a domestic violence call Dec. 4. When police arrived, they found the victim, Michael Phillips, who told them his father stabbed him in the neck during an argument.

During the trial, Phillips' attorneys Patrick Sullivan and Justin Kuehn said that Phillips, an above-the-knee amputee with a disabled arm, stabbed his son in self-defense. Phillips suffered days of abuse before the stabbing, Sullivan stated on Thursday.

Michael Phillips went to the hospital for treatment after the stabbing, but didn't require stitches and was released, Sullivan said.

St. Clair County Circuit Judge John Baricevic presided over the trial. The jury was out for two hours before finding Phillips not guilty.

Phillips had been held in the St. Clair County Jail in lieu of $200,000 bail since his arrest in early December. Phillips could not be reached for comment Thursday.

"He didn't want to take a conviction on this. He didn't feel that he did anything wrong," Sullivan said on Thursday. "He wanted to give the jury a chance to clear his name and they did. Mr. Kuehn and I are very pleased with the outcome."

St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly defended charging Phillips.

"The evidence is what it is. The defendant stabbed the victim. That's something that we had to charge," Kelly said. "Afterwards, the jurors seemed to each have their own opinions why they acquitted, but some of them basically thought the victim had it coming."

Kelly pointed to Phillips' two prior convictions for domestic battery, convictions that the jury did not get to hear because Phillips did not take the stand. Convictions can only be used to impeach the defendant if he chooses to testify, Kelly said.

"Extreme violence as a solution to family problems is not something we can abide, but if a jury of his peers felt it was insufficient, that's their choice," Kelly said. "Of course, a few jurors felt differently when they found out the defendant had previously twice been convicted of domestic battery and served time in prison ..."

But this case should be judged on its own, Sullivan asserted.

"Mr. Phillips maintained that his actions were justified," Sullivan said. "Mr. Kuehn and I agreed and we are very happy with the outcome."

Contact reporter Beth Hundsdorfer at bhundsdorfer@bnd.com or 618-239-2570.

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