Judge keeps driver charged in fatal crash in jail

Driver had multiple previous DUIs

Posted: Friday, December 25, 2009

ANCHORAGE - A driver accused of driving under the influence in a fatal crash won't be going home for Christmas. A judge has ruled Lori Phillips will remain jailed despite her mother's and brother's offer to stand as third-party custodians.

Phillips is charged with second-degree murder, first-degree assault, driving under the influence, reckless driving and driving on a revoked license in connection with the Nov. 5 head-on collision at Potter Marsh. The crash killed Louis Clement and put his child's mother, Joyua Stovall, in the hospital.

Members of all involved families appeared in court Wednesday. Stovall spoke to state Superior Court Judge Philip Volland over the telephone from her hospital bed, saying it would be unsafe to let Phillips out, where she could get behind the wheel again.

"The damage that was done - what I have to go through, and not being able to walk or see my children, or be able to go home and be a mother to them," Stovall said. "She is a hazard. She killed my child's father in the accident. Who's to say she's not going to slip up and do it again?"

Phillips is being held at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center with bail set at $110,000 and a third-party requirement. If she were released, any third party would be required to keep eyes or ears on Phillips at all times, something her mother, Elizabeth Jenkins, 79, and her brother, Robert L. Phillips, both of Fairbanks, said at the hearing they could do.

Assistant District Attorney Regan Williams opposed approval of the custodians, noting that in Phillips' two most recent DUIs, witnesses tried to physically stop her from driving but were unable to do so.

"The problem isn't reporting, the problem is stopping her," Williams said.

Phillips was out on bail on a DUI charge from earlier this year at the time of this fatal crash and already was convicted of a DUI charge in a 2005 case.

Court records indicate she was arrested on a DUI charge in Juneau in 1983 but pleaded that case down to a traffic offense. City prosecutors have also said she was convicted on a DUI charge in Washington state in 1986.

An attorney representing Phillips, John Cashion, told Volland that Phillips has only one prior DUI conviction and said the proposed custodians were fully capable of reporting her if she violates her conditions of release.

Phillips' trial is set for May 17.

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