Sunday, October 21, 2018 Elyria 38°

Cops and Courts

Plea deal in Elyria murder case upsets defendant, family


ELYRIA — Brady Phillips was not happy with his plea deal Monday, cursing in court and insulting a prosecutor, but he still went through with a deal that calls for him to serve 14 years in prison for his role in a botched 2009 robbery that left two men dead.

Phillips, 44, has long insisted he shouldn’t be facing murder charges for deaths of Hermino Serrano and Michael Stump, who were killed after Serrano and Phillips forced their way into Stump’s David Drive apartment Dec. 20, 2009.

The pair had planned to rob Stump of cash and prescription drugs that they thought were in a safe there. According to Elyria police, Serrano pistol-whipped Stump and, during the ensuing struggle, shot him in the head.

David McDonough, who was in the apartment when the robbery began, managed to get a gun and shoot Serrano. McDonough was shot in the stomach but survived.

During the gunfight, Phillips and others in the apartment fled, but Phillips was arrested within days of the killings and charged with murder.

Before he entered his plea, Phillips cursed at Assistant Lorain County Prosecutor Tony Cillo and accused him of lying during plea negotiations.

“Understand, Mr. Phillips, you may think he treated you poorly, but the fact of the matter is, two people are dead because of…” county Common Pleas Judge Mark Betleski said before Phillips interrupted him.

“I ain’t kill ’em,” Phillips said.

“I understand that, but you were involved in acts that got ’em there,” Betleski replied.

At one point, Phillips’ mother, who was seated just behind him in the courtroom told him to “shut up” as he complained about the plea deal.

“I can’t,” Phillips replied before his mother walked out of the courtroom. “I got a big mouth. Ask Tony Cillo.”

Phillips ultimately pleaded guilty to charges of murder, involuntary manslaughter, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, tampering with records, having weapons under disability and felonious assault. The maximum sentence in the case is 58 years to life in prison.

Although Phillips didn’t actually kill anyone, he faced felony murder charges because he was involved in criminal conduct that led to a killing.

Cillo said the plea, which he acknowledged Stump’s family was unhappy with, came about because Phillips had cooperated with law enforcement and helped solve the June 2009 killing of Marquis McCall during a drive-by shooting. He said Phillips wore a wire while in the Lorain County Jail and talked to Raymond Fowler, a suspect in the McCall killing.

Fowler, who is not charged in the McCall case, refused to testify last year during the trial of Bohannon Miller, who is one of several people accused of involvement in the McCall slaying. Miller was convicted and sentenced to 40 years to life in prison in the case.

Cillo said that Phillips must also take a lie detector test and testify in future trials involving suspects in the McCall slaying. If he doesn’t do that, Cillo said, it will void the deal for 14 years, and Phillips could end up with a far longer prison sentence.

Phillips has argued that he should have received a six-year prison sentence under the terms of an earlier deal with prosecutors, although that agreement fell apart years ago.

After the hearing, Michelle Markel, Stump’s cousin, said her family doesn’t like the deal prosecutors cut with Phillips.

“We’re very upset,” she said. “(We) think 14 years is not enough. He’s shown no accountability.”

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