2012 Delaware soccer shooting trial begins; revenge given as motive

Two men accused of shooting up a soccer tournament in Wilmington in 2012 could face the death penalty if a Delaware jury finds them guilty.

Opening arguments began Monday in the trial of Otis Phillips and Jeffrey Phillips, who are not related.  Deputy Attorney General Ipek Medford said the men were out for “revenge, retaliation and elimination” when they shot and killed 47-year-old Herman Curry at Eden Park on July 8, 2012. Alexander Kamara, a 16-year-old soccer player was killed in the crossfire.

The state alleges that the two men walked up to Curry through the crowd of soccer players and parents and shot him three times at close range before “spraying” the crowd with bullets.

Curry, who was a soccer coach and had organized the event, was targeted because he had witnessed a murder allegedly committed by Otis Phillips in 2008.

The prosecution also claimed that the men were seeking revenge for the death of their friend, Kirk Williams, who had been gunned down earlier that morning after a graduation party turned violent.

Both Otis Phillips and Jeffrey Phillips attempted to flee the park shooting in a car driven by a third man, 43-year-old Sheldon Olge of Maryland.

Olge was hit after more bullets were exchanged in the parking lot, and was only able to drive the car a short distance before crashing.  Police found him dead in the driver’s seat, while the two Phillips’ tried to hide out in a backyard of a home about a half a mile from the park. Police were able to take the men into custody later that afternoon.

During the trial, which is expected to last several weeks, jurors will hear testimony from witnesses who were at the soccer tournament that day. They will also hear from investigators, DNA experts, and ballistic experts.

Former members of the “Sure Shot” gang,  with whom both Otis Phillips and Jeffrey Phillips associated themselves, are also expected to testify.

Defense attorneys for the two Phillips’ said the events of the day, and the amount of people involved, make it difficult to identify exactly who was involved in the shootings. They also urged jurors to listen closely to the witnesses, as some have cut deals with prosecutors to reduce charges or sentences for other crimes.

Both men face multiple charges. Otis Phillips is facing first degree murder charges for the death of Kamara and Curry as well as the murder of Christopher Palmer, who was gunned down at a night club in 2008.

Jeffrey Philips is charged with first degree murder for the death of Kamara and Curry.

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