Richmond Phillips, a former police officer with the Washington DC department, is accused of murdering his child by leaving him in a scorching hot vehicle.
Phillips was also charged with killing his 20-year-old girlfriend and the girl's mother, in the midst of a paternity suit.
The trial for the premeditated, first-degree murder of Wynetta Wright and 1-year-old Jaylin started on Monday, January 14, reports say.
“Richmond Phillips committed the crimes because he was facing a paternity lawsuit and didn't want to pay child support for a baby girl he fathered out of wedlock,” Angela Alsobrooks said during the prosecution's opening statement.
The incident occurred in June 2011, International Business Times details. Jaylin was found in a vehicle parked in a Washington D.C. Park. At the time, the temperature in the car reached 100F (38C), according to reports by the WJLA.
Phillips had been with the Metropolitan Police Department Narcotics Unit for several years. Prosecutors allege that he shot girlfriend Wynetta when she threatened she would ask for alimony for the child they had together.
Police describe that he then drove away and let his child in the car, not far from the first crime scene. His actions have been dubbed deliberate, with the specific intent of killing the toddler.
“My client is innocent. He didn't do this thing because the evidence is circumstantial,” defense lawyer Brian Denton argues. He has stated that there is not enough proof linking the former cop to the gruesome crimes.
Web Pro News writes about “Bryan’s Law,” a piece of legislation instated in Kentucky when another toddler died due to negligence by his babysitter. Parents leaving their children uncared for could face severe legal consequences.
Last summer, ABC News chronicled the deaths of eight children in the United States, in the first week of August. They had all suffered hyperthermia, or heatstroke, from being left alone in heated cars.