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Confessed killer sentenced to 26 years

Thu., Nov. 25, 2010

OKANOGAN, Wash. – A Spokane man who told two juries that he beat and stabbed a pregnant Tonasket woman after he was told she was the snitch he was hired to hurt was sentenced to 26 years in prison Tuesday.

Brent L. Phillips, 39, pleaded guilty in Okanogan County Superior Court in March to first-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, first-degree kidnapping and tampering with physical evidence.

Phillips testified for the prosecution in trials of three defendants who were all found guilty of helping to murder 25-year-old Michelle Kitterman, and her unborn child on March 1, 2009.

Phillips kept his head bent down for the entire sentencing on Tuesday. When asked whether Phillips wanted to make a statement to the family, his attorney Alan White told the judge Phillips did not want to speak because he felt anything he said would be meaningless to the Kitterman family.

White also said that Phillips told him he would trade places with the victim if he could, but he could not because “he knew she was in heaven, and he was not going to go to that place.”

Phillips was sentenced to the time recommended by Okanogan County Prosecutor Karl Sloan after a plea bargain that included testifying in the trials of: Lacey Hirst-Pavek, 35, Tonasket, convicted of first-degree aggravated murder and first-degree manslaughter; Tansy F. Mathis, 30, Spokane, convicted of first-degree aggravated murder, first-degree manslaughter, first-degree kidnapping and tampering with physical evidence; and David E. Richards, 34, Spokane, convicted of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter.

Kitterman’s mother, Tracy Kitterman, asked visiting Douglas County Superior Court Judge John Hotchkiss to sentence Phillips to the maximum amount of time possible, regardless of the plea bargain.

But after handing down the sentence, Hotchkiss said, “This court recognizes there is true value in plea bargains. There may not be to this family,” he said.

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