(CBS) UPPER MARLBORO, Md. - Richmond Phillips, a District of Columbia police officer embroiled in a paternity suit, fatally shot his mistress before leaving their infant child to "cook" in an overheated car, prosecutors said as the officer's murder trial opened Monday, CBS DC reports.
According to the station, prosecutor Angela Alsobrooks told the jury 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. A defense lawyer countered that his client "didn't do this thing" and there wasn't evidence for a conviction.
Phillips was arrested in June 2011 after police located the bodies of 20-year-old Wynetta Wright and her daughter, Jaylin, in a park outside Washington. Prosecutors say Phillips shot Wright and then drove the child - still strapped in the car seat of her mother's car with the doors closed and the windows up - a short distance away where he left her to die, CBS DC says. A heat advisory was in effect that day, and temperatures inside the car reached 125 degrees, Alsobrooks told the jury.
The prosecution alleges Phillips lured Wright to the park to try to work things out on the eve of a scheduled court date in their paternity case. Wright was reportedly excited to bring Jaylin so she could meet her father.
Phillips is charged with first-degree murder, punishable by life in prison if convicted, along with other crimes. Prosecutors say surveillance video and phone records connect Phillips to the park where the killing occurred, DNA evidence links him to the murder, and he lied to investigators about his relationship with Wright.
Defense lawyer Brian Denton said his client is innocent and that the case hinged on circumstantial evidence.
CBS DC reports Phillips met Wright at a nightclub while off-duty and their relationship soon turned sexual. But Phillips, who was already married with another child, ended contact with her after learning that she was pregnant.
Phillips has been suspended from the police force without pay pending the outcome of the case, police said according to CBS DC.