FROM STAFF REPORTS
The Post Searchlight
BAINBRIDGE- After nearly two years of waiting for justice, Katherine Bedwell can finally sleep again, knowing her husband’s murderers are behind bars. Troy Arthur Phillips was found guilty in the 2021 murder of Decatur County Sheriff’s Office Captain Justin Bedwell on Wednesday afternoon by a jury of his peers.
On February 28, 2021, Troy Phillips was arrested for a shooting rampage that began on Saturday, February 27, after Seminole County Sheriff’s Office Deputies Garrett Wooten and Lee Owens attempted to pull over Troy for speeding.
Troy drove away, while his brother, Brad began shooting. During the chase, the brothers wound up in Decatur County, attempting to shoot into the residence of Jesse Whitley.
While at the Whitley’s, the brothers fatally shot Bedwell, who responded to the scene.
The three-day trial began on Monday, February 13, with the selection of jurors, before concluding on Wednesday, February 15, 2023, when Phillips was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Heather Lanier to life without the possibility of parole plus 55 years.
Wednesday’s conclusion of the trial saw expert testimony from four individuals, along with two deputies and co-defendant, Brad Phillips.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Amy Braswell was the first to testify in Wednesday’s trial.
Braswell works as a crime scene specialist and has over 24 years of experience, tendering her as an expert in her field.
Braswell was called to the scene on February 27, 2021, while Troy and Brad were still on the loose.
At the scene, Braswell photographed bullet holes in Bedwell’s patrol vehicle, along with Bedwell’s ballistic vest that was stained with blood.
Braswell then used a trajectory rod at the scene to see where the bullet entered from and exited.
While taking photographs at the scene, Braswell discovered a camera on the side of Whitley’s home that had captured the interactions that took place on the front porch that evening between the Phillips brothers and Whitley.
She was able to download and process the videos that were then used for evidence during Wednesday’s trial.
Braswell also photographed the inside of the Whitley’s home, showing the bullet hole defects from the gun.
While the photographs and video evidence were strong, Troy’s defense attorney, Allen Wheeler asked Braswell if she ever located any shotgun shells at the scene of the crime.
Troy was accused of partaking in the murder of Bedwell, using a shotgun, along with using a shotgun to break into the Whitley’s home.
However, Braswell explained she found no shotgun shell casings or bullets during her search, but did locate seven shells in the butt of the gun, along with rusted shotgun shells in the vest of Bedwell.
It was later determined one of the brothers had taken Bedwell’s vest, possibly in search of additional ammunition.
Following Braswell’s disclosure, Wheeler had no further questions and she was dismissed from the witness stand.
Thomasville GBI Special Agent Dustin Peak was then sworn in for testimony.
Peak was responsible for the processing of the truck the Phillips’ brothers used to flee the scene.
During the processing, Peak testified he located mail and receipts, both belonging to Troy, along with a rifle cartridge case, a knife, several vials of steroids, a bag of crystal meth and two financial cards belonging to Phillips.
Wheeler had no questions for Peak, leading to another expert testimony from Catherine Jordan, a firearms examiner since 2005.
Jordan was sent several bullets from the scene, along with both the shotgun and the rifle used to shoot at deputies, including Bedwell and the Whitleys on the harrowing night of February 27. During her examination, Jordan found 23 casings and bullets from an AK 47, one metal jacket still containing lead fragments, and one 9 mm bullet that Whitley used to shoot back.
Following Jordan’s testimony about the casings and bullets, Seminole County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Investigator Lee Owens was called to the stand to recollect on the events from that night two years ago.
Owens testified he was off duty and on his front porch, when he heard Wooten was involved in a high-speed chase.
Owens said he immediately hopped off his porch and into his police tahoe to assist.
In an attempt to help Wooten, Owens tried a PIT (police intervention technique) maneuver that would cause Troy and Brad to be forced off the road.
As Owens attempted to PIT, he saw a gun barrel in the passenger side window. Owens said he knew he had to stop them, but as he tried to ram them, Brad began shooting and Wooten radioed in that he had been shot.
Owens had no time to think, as Brad soon began shooting at him as well, but Owens shot back.
Unfortunately the PIT maneuver had rendered Owens’ Tahoe useless, as his tire came off, while the brothers escaped. He was then picked up by Dale Swanner, who continued on in the pursuit.
The brothers were relentless, as Brad continued shooting at Owens and Swanner, while Troy drove over 90 mph.
Inv. Dale King also testified about his experience that night in assisting in the chase. He was also located at his residence, when he heard Wooten was involved in a chase near his neighbored. He told the jury he hopped in his charger and turned on the radio to hear that Wooten had been shot. He continued to pursue the Phillips, but his vehicle was shot at as well.
“I heard bullets just whizzing by my head,” he recounted.
Knowing the danger, he began screaming at Bedwell to stop, as he entered to respond at the Whitely home, but King said Bedwell never heard him, and he saw Bedwell get hit, before he could respond.
Wheeler and District Attorney Joe Mulholland thanked Owens and King for their testimonies, before calling Agent Montana Walker to the stand.
Walker was responsible for monitoring both Troy and Brad, following their detainment. She provided the jury with photographic evidence of Troy posting about his truck, along with several videos Troy had made prior to his arrest about his hatred of cops and the bloodbath that was to come, if one ever tried to mess with him.
Following Walker’s testimony, the state rested in their case.
The defense had one lone witness, Troy’s brother Brad.
Brad testified that Troy had picked him up from a bus stop in Panama City, Florida, stating he needed help with picking up a bucket truck for his tree business in Thomasville.
At the time Brad was picked up, he stated he was heavily addicted to methamphetamine, along with steroids and was on the run for violating his parole in Florida.
When Troy was pulled over, Brad stated he told his brother to “Go, he wasn’t going back to prison.”
While Troy was driving, Brad testified he found a variety of items in Troy’s truck to deter the officers. He first located a laser that he attempted to use to blind Wooten, before locating a shotgun and firing at Wooten. He later found a rifle and began shooting out Troy’s back window.
Brad told jurors there was absolutely no plan and that Troy was just following his commands. He said it was his idea to stop at the Whitely’s, and he was the one who jumped out of the truck and began shooting at the cops coming down the road.
Wheeler thanked Brad for his testimony, before Mulholland began questioning him.
Mulholland asked Brad if he would do anything to protect his younger brother, and he responded he would.
Mulholland asked him if that included lying about who really shot the shotgun on the night of February 27.
Brad assured Mulholland he had no idea what he was talking about, but much to Phillips’ surprise, Mulholland called Agent Walker back up to the witness stand and presented the jury with a recorded call of Brad telling an unknown female that “he had to find a way to get Troy’s a** off, so to keep his head up because he would go home that night.”
Following the final call transcript, both the state and defense rested.
In closing Mulholland argued that Troy had every opportunity to stop and kick his brother out, but he never did. He actively provided the guns, the truck, the ammunition and the route. He even went and got a blood-soaked vest to provide additional ammunition.
Wheeler agreed that the evidence in the case was overwhelming, but Troy was under the influence of drugs and was a paranoid individual.
“We know how Capt. Bedwell died and it was Brad Phillips,” Wheeler argued. “There was no indication of planning between the two of them.”
Mulholland had the final argument, sharing a previous video recording, where Troy said “we’ve had enough, we did what we needed to,” following the death of Bedwell, proving that it wasn’t just Brad who “did what he needed to.”
Upon closing arguments, the jury was sent to deliberate and found Troy guilty on all counts, including malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault of a peace office, aggravated assault x6, criminal attempt to commit burglary and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.
Katherine and Bedwell’s mother, Georgia were happy with the results and read impact statements prior to sentencing, Lanier took those into consideration and sentenced Troy to life without the possibility of parole for malice and felony murder, plus 30 years for criminal attempt, 20 years for aggravated assault of the Whitleys and five years for possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.