MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — It’s been almost 10 years to the day that Jessie Livell Phillips was convicted and sentenced for the murder of his pregnant wife in Marshall County.
Now, according to court documents, he’s requesting a new trial.
On September 6, 2012, a jury found Phillips guilty of capital murder – two or more. The jury also unanimously recommended the death penalty, and Marshall County Circuit Judge Tim Riley later sentenced to him to death.
The then-32-year-old Albertville man was charged in the February 2009 shooting death of his wife, Erica Droze Phillips. She was 8 weeks pregnant at the time.
According to News 19’s previous reporting, the couple, their two young children, and Droze-Phillips’ brother, Billy, were all at Lakeside Car Wash in Guntersville when the shooting happened.
In court documents, Phillips is said to have gotten angry after his wife hadn’t changed their young daughter’s wet diaper. He was accused of shooting Droze-Phillips in the back of the head, leaving her body lying in a car wash bay.
The 23-year-old died the next morning at Huntsville Hospital.
Phillis made an attempt to appeal his conviction in 2015, but the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals upheld the ruling. In the same ruling, however, the case was sent back to the trial court for resentencing. Early in 2016, Judge Riley again sentenced him to death.
The case was the first of its kind in Alabama, implementing “Brody’s Law,” passed in the Alabama legislature in 2006. The new bill allowed Phillips to be prosecuted for the death of Droze-Phillips’ unborn child.
The Brody Bill was created in honor of Brody Parker, the unborn child of Brandie Parker of Albertville who was eight months pregnant when she was fatally shot. The law applies throughout pregnancy and protects women during all nine months of pregnancy.
Then-District Attorney Steve Marshall said at the time that if it hadn’t been for that legislation, they wouldn’t have been able to pursue a capital case or a death sentence against Phillips.
Marshall, now the Attorney General for Alabama, provided the following statement to News 19:
“Over thirteen years ago, Jessie Livell Phillips committed a horrendous crime in Marshall County, taking the life of both his pregnant wife, Erica Phillips, and their unborn child. It was a heinous act that shook our community and a case I personally prosecuted as district attorney and again on appeal as Alabama Attorney General.
In fact, this case was the first successful prosecution under Alabama’s Brody Act, a law that makes it a crime to kill or injure an unborn child.
In 2018, Phillips’ capital murder conviction was upheld on appeal by the Alabama Supreme Court and the following year the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the case – making it abundantly clear that Phillips has rightfully earned his death sentence. While he may pursue further appeals that the legal system affords all death row inmates, my office and I will continue to stand with his victims to see that he ultimately keeps his date with justice.”– Attorney General Steve Marshall
Phillips made another attempt for an appeal in 2017, but the Alabama Supreme Court denied his request.
A hearing is scheduled to be held on Tuesday, August 30 at 9 a.m.