The sentencing for a repeat drunk driver convicted of second degree murder and D.U.I. charges is on hold.
Lori Phillip's defense attorney, Rex Butler, asked for a new trial, claiming the previous trial was unfair because of a public service announcement that ran during the trial.
Butler claimed it's the number of times that P.S.A. ran and the person featured in it that made an atmosphere that's hard to have a fair trial. The District Attorney’s Office said the P.S.A., created by the Department of Public Safety, ran 1,450 times on about 60 cable channels over a two week span during the trial in November.
That P.S.A. featured Nancy Bidwell, who talked about her 17-year-old daughter who was killed by a drunk driver in 1983.
According to Butler, Bidwell was in the courtroom and he argued her presence was a conscious and subconscious reminder to jurors that drunk driving is bad.
Bidwell tells us she's shocked and doesn't see any relevance and said that the P.S.A. talked about her daughter and not Phillip's case.
“I think though this is a last ditch effort to try to get the reduced charge,” said Bidwell. “Down to manslaughter instead of murder two.”
According to police, Phillips was four times over the legal limit after she consumed more than a dozen drinks and drove head on into a car, killing a man back in November of 2009.
The jury found her guilty on all counts, but Butler claimed the P.S.A. affected how a person would evaluate a case like this.
“It just ran incessantly,” said Butler. “I mean it ran more than anything else on television.”
Judge Phillip Volland is expected to review the motion for a new trial Friday, July 22.
Phillips has remained in jail since she was taken into custody in 2009.