Phillips Jury Trial Day One Recap

Phillips Jury Trial Day One Recap

A man facing charges in a fatal shooting in Hartington in March of 2023 began his jury trial Tuesday.

David Phillips Jr., 20, of Louisiana, is facing a second-degree murder charge in the death of Israel Matos-Colon, 31, of Michigan, along with charges of possession of a stolen firearm, and use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony.

The state called on five witnesses Tuesday, including; Ashlee Verhoek, who was the former VP of BULT Wireless where Phillips and Matos-Colon worked, Josh Curiel, the foreman on site where Phillips and Matos-Colon were working, LT. Gena Jones of the Nebraska State Patrol, Chad Claussen, who is the Chief Deputy of the Cedar County Sheriff’s Department, and Jeff Jones, who is a Conservation Officer with Nebraska, Game, Fish, and Parks.

Verhoek and Curiel both claimed that Phillips and Matos-Colon were at a work site just north of Hartington when an argument ensued between the two.

Curiel says that he separated the two men for a brief time before the argument continued and then he heard gunshots. Curiel says he informed Verhoek of the situation and then called the authorities.

Chief Deputy Claussen, who was the first responder to the scene, claimed that he spotted Curiel and the rest of his crew just off the side of the road on Highway 57 near the crime scene.

Clausen claims that after he followed Curiel and his crew to the scene, where he discovered Phillips. Clausen claims that Phillips surrendered and was able to apprehend his weapon.

Conservation Officer Jeff Jones, who is also a trained EMT, says he was second on the scene and attempted life saving measures on Matos-Colon, before the decision was made to transport him to Avera Sacred Heart in Yankton, where he was pronounced dead.

The Phillips trial is set to continue at 9 a.m. Wednesday.