RICHMOND, Ind. — Phillip Lee made his first court appearance Friday in Wayne County after being charged with three counts of attempted murder.
Lee appeared in court over video call from his hospital bed. He coughed a bit but appeared to be recovering from his injuries sustained during the August 10 shooting.
He is accused of shooting Richmond Police K9 Officer Seara Burton and shooting at two other officers during a traffic stop on North 12th Street in Richmond.
Michelle Partin saw the shooting happen. She lives in front of where the shooting happened, right next door to where Phillip Lee had just moved in.
”It’s just very sad, all of it is very sad,” Partin said.
In court, Lee chose to stick with his court appointed attorney Andrew Maternowski.
Lee said he has been unemployed for awhile now and has no money to hire an attorney.
Court documents said Lee fired five shots at three Richmond officers during the traffic stop.
Lee narrowly missed the first officer, hit Officer Burton, then Lee began to run away and fired at a third officer.
Burton is still in an Ohio hospital in extremely critical condition.
”We’ve definitely been praying for her,” Partin said.
Partin said Lee lived next door for only two days before the shooting.
”I think he moved in overnight because the next day he was just kind of there,” she said.
In that short time she said Lee never did anything to make her worry.
”He didn’t stand out in any kind of way,” Partin said. “He didn’t make himself seem like a violent person that would hurt anyone.”
Lee has a criminal past dating back 30 years with charges for burglary and drug possession.
In 2019, Lee was arrested for fondling a child under 14, but that case never went to a jury trial.
During the traffic stop, Officer Burton’s K9 Brev indicated there could be drugs on Lee’s scooter. Court docs show he was found with meth, cocaine and heroin.
Partin said she never would have guessed from the brief conversations she had with him.
”He actually seemed like a good neighbor,” Partin said.
After the initial hearing Friday, Lee’s bond stayed at $1.5 million dollars surety.
The court also entered a formal plea of not guilty for Lee.
As Partin prays for Officer Burton, she also thinks of Lee.
”Phillip’s human too, kind of praying for him as well,” she said.
Wayne County Deputy Prosecutor Ashley Green was there by video conference and had nothing to add.
In the courtroom were also three Richmond Police Officers and a K9 handler.
On top of the three attempted murder charges, Lee is also charged with having a handgun as a convicted felon, and possession of meth, cocaine and a narcotic drug.
At the end of the hearing, Judge April Drake told the court Lee’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for Oct. 3 and his trial is Nov. 1.