In what appears to be a fit-for-TV storyline, an American Airlines pilot was arrested in Kentucky and indicted for the murder of three people.
When passengers saw Christian Richard Martin, a pilot for PSA Airlines, a wholly-owned subsidiary of American Airlines, arrested in Louisville just prior to scheduled departure, most thought he was drunk. No one had any idea that he would shortly be charged with the murder of three people.
But Martin has been charged with triple murder, arson, burglary, and evidence tampering. As explained by NBC News:
Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear said Saturday that Martin was responsible for the 2015 murders of Calvin and Pamela Phillips and their neighbor Edward Dansereau.
Calvin Phillips was found fatally shot at home in Pembroke, Kentucky, Beshear said in a video Saturday. The bodies of Pamela Phillips and Dansereau were found in Calvin Phillips’ vehicle, which had been set on fire in a corn field a few miles away from the couple’s residence, he said.
Martin spent 30 years in the U.S. Army, but was court-martialed in 2015 in a case surrounding mishandling classified information as well physical and sexual abuse. In 2016, he was dishonorably discharged.
Calvin Phillips was listed a potential witness in the case against Martin. His untimely death raised alarms back in 2015, though it is not clear what evidence emerged to finally charge Martin nearly four years later.
American Airlines was on the defensive, stating that it had placed Martin on administrative leave and adding:
All of us at American Airlines and PSA Airlines are deeply saddened to have learned about these allegations from 2015. Our team was made aware of the indictment this morning after his arrest at Louisville International Airport. We have an unwavering commitment to the safety and security of our customers and team members, and we will provide any investigative assistance possible to law enforcement throughout their investigation…
Pilots undergo a criminal background check and recurrent vetting for any derogatory information. In this specific case, Christian Martin was subject to this recurrent vetting without any criminal history that would disqualify him from being a commercial pilot…
Martin, a North Carolina resident, is being held in the Christian County Detention Center in Kentucky without bail ahead of his May 22nd court date.
I have to imagine (and least hope) that Martin was not suddenly arrested four years later without compelling evidence to support such an arrest. Then again, the grand jury system is not without issues. For the families of the deceased, I hope for justice and closure. We put our life in the hands of imperfect people every day. It’s a sobering thought, but should not be a surprising revelation. Thankfully, Martin appears to be merely a bad apple in profession of professionals.