In Bradley County Criminal Court Monday, Aaron Dean Lawson learned how many years in prison he would face after being convicted of killing two Charleston residents in 2011.
Charles “Eddie” and Debbie Phillips were shot to death outside their home on Leatha Lane just before 9 p.m. on April 19, 2011. Eddie Phillips was 58 and Debbie Phillips was 54 at the time of their murders.
Before Judge Carroll Ross Monday, Lawson was sentenced to 51 years (life) to run concurrently, and an additional two years for a conviction of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He could be eligible for parole after serving the life sentence.
A domestic situation which continued to escalate throughout the life of the Phillips’ granddaughter is what precipitated the April 2011 shooting.
Lawson was convicted by a Bradley County jury in January after a nearly weeklong trial.
Then-Assistant District Attorney General Stephen Hatchett questioned Lawson as he took the witness stand in his defense during the January trial.
Both Debbie and Eddie Phillips had suffered multiple gunshot wounds and injuries which authorities said would have incapacitated them during the shooting.
Lawson explained during questioning that Debbie Phillips was key to making decisions and had influence in visitation issues, which had been ongoing since the first month of his daughter Madison’s birth in 1999.
Lawson had sought court action on numerous occasions. He was first granted supervised visitation, then eventually full, unsupervised visitation and co-parenting.
Defense attorney Randy Rogers hammered into the jury that Lawson developed mental issues over time and was diagnosed as bipolar.
Lawson testified he was upset because of an upcoming Easter weekend visitation had been changed.
Lawson then went to the Phillips’ home where he confronted the couple in the backyard pool area.
Investigators pieced together forensic information and built the case that Hatchett presented to the jury, resulting in the conviction for the two counts of first-degree murder and the weapons charge.
“I believe justice was done in this case and hopefully the victim’s family gets some measure of peace and closure,” Hatchett said after the sentencing.
Lawson, who had already been transferred into Tennessee Department of Corrections custody, was remanded once again to its custody after sentencing.