Remembering Murder Victims Eddie and Debbie Phillips

Eddie and Debbie Phillips

Eddie and Debbie Phillips. (image via

Guilty of first-degree murder on two counts!

Those were the words of the foreman of the jury in the Eddie and Debbie Phillips murder trial this past week at the Bradley County (Tenn.) Courthouse.

I did not stay in the courtroom to personally hear the verdict of the jury. However, I was there during the closing arguments of the prosecution and the defense. I could not stay. The pictures that Stephen Hatchett, Assistant District Attorney General, put on the television monitor during his closing arguments were way too graphic for me.

These pictures were of two people lying in their yard… shot to death. These pictures were of two people who were great parents to their two loving daughters. These pictures were of two people who were the most incredible grandparents I have ever seen.

These pictures were of two people who were my next-door neighbors for 10 years.

They were the friendliest, most wonderful, caring neighbors that anyone could ever wish for. Eddie and Debbie Phillips were shot to death in cold blood in a calculated, pre-meditated murder. And now the guilty party will remain in jail for the rest of his life.

I was subpoenaed to court for the trial to be there in case the Assistant DA needed character witnesses. I sat in a holding room for about 4 hours with several other individuals who knew the Phillips’ very well and were very close friends. We all shared our memories of Eddie and Debbie with each other. All the stories were good. No… all the stories were incredible!

Right after lunch we were all told that we would not be needed to testify and we could leave or we could go in the courtroom to listen to the closing arguments.

I chose to stay.

I sat next to Chuck Atchley, Eddie’s very best friend, in the courtroom. I am glad I did. Chuck is a big man, with big shoulders. And I needed those big shoulders to lean on at that time.

I loved Eddie and Debbie. There was not one single day that went by that I did not have some sort of conversation with Eddie Phillips. Sometimes just a “hello Eddie!” and throw up a hand. Sometimes we would pull our lawnmowers up next to each other, turn off the engines and sit there and chat for a while. In any case… not one day for 10 years that we did not communicate. They were incredible, awesome neighbors.

I gained a whole new respect for our justice system that day. I have a lot more appreciation for Stephen Hatchett with the D.A.’s office. He had a very difficult job to do… and he did it very well!

I have learned since that Mr. Hatchett is running for District Attorney. He certainly has my vote. And when I punch his name on the ballot in the voting booth, I will remember my friends, Eddie and Debbie.

Why would anyone want to take someone else’s life is way beyond my comprehension. It is something I will NEVER understand. I do not buy the fact of “insanity” or “bi-polar issues” or “involuntary manslaughter”. If you plan a murder, load the bullets in your gun, get in your car to drive to someone’s house and ambush them when they get home, you’re not insane… but you are a cold-blooded killer that deserves to rot away in a prison for the rest of your life! Somewhere, with no more communication to the outside world. And after this life, you will serve another sentence… handed down by the Almighty Judge!

I am sorry if I have offended you in this blog. I certainly did not mean to.

I am also very sorry that I will never have the chance to wave at my old neighbors ever again. Throw up a hand… and say “Hi Eddie”. Never again. Makes me sick to my stomach.

In Loving Memory of Eddie and Debbie Phillips.

About Mark Grissom

Mark was born on the north side of Chicago in 1964. Raised a Cubs fan by his dad, he never had a chance in life. He moved to Cleveland, Tennessee, in 1988. While he lives closer to Atlanta now, he will never be able to leave the religion of "Cubbie Nation." Baptized as a Cubs fan at the age of five, he has no choice but to live the remainder of his life here on earth in mediocrity at its best!

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