Man accused of killing Bradley Co. grandparents on trial
The murder trial is under way for a man accused of gunning down his daughter's grandparents in Bradley County.
Aaron Lawson is charged with two counts of first degree murder in the shooting deaths of Eddie and Debbie Phillips. Prosecutors accuse Lawson of ambushing the couple in their driveway in April 2011.
Police believe the shooting stems from a long-heated custody battle over the defendant's daughter. Lawson and Phillips' daughter, Priscilla, briefly dated and had a child in 1999. According to police, Lawson was arguing with the family over where the child was spending Easter weekend.
When Priscilla Phillips took the witness stand Wednesday afternoon, she told prosecutors her and Lawson's relationship was often hostile through the years. However, she said the child was allowed to see her father when the girl wanted to, and had been with Lawson two weeks before the murders took place.
"There were many times she wanted to go," Phillips said. "Even if it wasn't his weekend, I allowed her to go."
Prior to Phillips' testimony, most of the prosecution witnesses called on Wednesday were police forensic specialists. A former TBI DNA analyst testified he found Debbie Phillips' blood on a pair of Lawson's pants.
Tim Deroos is related to the Phillips, and said they were "family-oriented and trustworthy" people.
"They were no different than any other American family that had some domestic issues," he said.
John Eldredge was a 35-year customer and friend of Debbie and Eddie, who owned an auto repair shop. He hopes the trial will bring justice for the Phillips and their family.
"It's just awful," he said. "I couldn't believe it when it happened, and I still can't believe it happened."
The trial is set to resume Thursday morning.