A D.C. police officer killed a 20-year-old aspiring sheriff’s deputy and left their baby to die in a sweltering car because he did not want to have to pay her for child support, Prince George’s County prosecutors said Monday as the officer’s double-murder trial began.
Richmond Diallo Phillips, 40, faces two counts of first-degree murder in the 2011 deaths of Wynetta Wright and their daughter, Jaylin Wright, who went missing on May 31, 2011, the day before Mr. Phillips was scheduled for a child-support hearing in a paternity suit involving the year-old girl.
“He was either going to talk her out of that paternity suit or he was going to kill her,” State’s Attorney Angela D. Alsobrooks said.
Ms. Alsobrooks began laying out the prosecution’s case Monday in a trial that is expected to last six days. She called to the stand the last family member to speak with Wright, who said the young woman had gone to meet Mr. Phillips the night of May 30.
“I didn’t have a good feeling about her meeting,” said Wright’s cousin Donna Leggett, recalling how she called and texted Wright multiple times throughout the evening to check in.
Wright was found fatally shot in a wooded area near the park bench where she met Mr. Phillips the night before the paternity hearing. Investigators found Jaylin’s body nearby in her mother’s car, which had the windows rolled up and the doors closed.
Mr. Phillips’ public defender, Brian Denton, said evidence in the case is circumstantial and that Mr. Phillips was not guilty of the killings. On Monday, he peppered an evidence technician who helped process the crime scene with questions about items that were photographed at the crime scene but not collected.
“Here’s the blood we’re talking about that you submitted for analysis, but you didn’t collect the cigarette butt right next to it,” Mr. Denton said while questioning the evidence technician about items discovered on the park bench.
Mr. Phillips, who wore a black suit and his long dreadlocks in a ponytail, has been suspended from the Metropolitan Police Department without pay. He faces life in prison if convicted.
The courtroom was filled Monday with friends and family members of Wright, who had planned to become sheriff’s deputy when she turned 21.
“She was so infatuated with police officers and trying to do the right thing all the time,” said her mother, Wyvette Wright.