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Convict in drag racing case invites judge to jail for visit

October 3rd, 2011 9:28 pm by Becky Campbell

A Johnson City businessman jailed for six years in a drag racing death case has again asked a judge to intervene in his sentence to allow him his freedom.
David Phillips, 44, wrote a letter to Judge Robert Cupp that is filed in his court record asking the judge visit him in prison and have him moved back to the Johnson County jail where he initially began serving his sentence.
Phillips was convicted in 2007 of vehicular homicide, reckless aggravated assault and felony reckless endangerment.
A jury convicted him for being involved in a street race with then-18-year-old Bradley Mullins. The jury determined that the two raced down North Roan Street on Sept. 24, 2005, but Phillips pulled out of the street contest before Mullins plowed into the back of a Honda CRV stopped for the red light at North Roan and Springbrook Drive.
Two teenage girls in the car, Cortney Hensley and Courtney Beard, were engulfed as the car burst into flames. Beard was rescued from the fiery crash, but has continued to endure surgeries to repair severe burn injuries.
Hensley was trapped and died in the car.
Phillips appealed his convictions, but they were upheld by the Court of Criminal Appeals last year and he began serving his sentence in April. He was eligible for parole earlier this year, but it was denied and he won’t come back up until 2017, which is after his sentence will expire.
In July, Phillips filed a motion through a new attorney, Michael LaGuardia, asking that he be awarded 884 days of “dead time,” which is the number of days he was free on bond while awaiting the decision on his appeal.
Phillips withdrew that motion shortly after it was filed.
In the Sept. 18 letter to Cupp, Phillips repeated his innocence and talked about being sent to a prison instead of being allowed to serve his sentence in a local jail.
Phillips said in his letter that he was moved from the Johnson County jail to a state prison but is now hoping to be moved from Morgan County to Northeast Correctional Complex in Mountain City.
Phillips indicated he would rather be back at the Johnson County jail and asked Cupp to facilitate that move.
State judges have said in the past that they have no control over where the Department of Correction chooses to house state inmates.
Phillips also asked Cupp to visit him and hook him up to a lie detector machine “to see if I am telling you the truth or not.”
In another part of the rambling letter, Phillips told Cupp “you can sign off on my days on my appeals bond and the state will issue those days to me. No one will have to know what happened.”
Phillips said his family is being harrassed and his business — a local landscape company — is being threatened by someone sending flyers to customers warning them to not do business with him.
The flyer, which Phillips included in his letter, states: “Help us spread the word on the Internet,” about Phillips. It is signed “friends of the victims.”
Mullins, Phillips’ co-defendant, began serving his five-year sentence in January 2008 and he was given early release in May 2010 after serving 50 percent of his sentence.
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This article has been corrected to reflect that Mullins was given early release rather than paroled.

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