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Mother of slain Newport taxi driver: 'He's not the bad guy in this story'

Posted at 12:18 AM, Dec 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-19 07:25:47-05

NEWPORT, Ky. -- Brenda Hall lived through the loss of her parents, husband and older brother, but the Dec. 12 shooting death of her son hit her hardest.

"It's just an unimaginable pain," she said Monday night. "Can't even put words to it. He was generous, he was thoughtful, he was kind. … This is just senseless, callous and cowardly."

David DePhillips, a 38-year-old father of three, was shot to death inside the taxi he drove after what police believe was a drug deal gone awry. Three people -- 20-year-old Justin Russell, 19-year-old Alyssa Baker and 18-year-old Jarrett Anness -- were arrested in connection to the homicide, and Russell was charged with murder.

According to police, the shooting was likely the result of a botched heroin deal in which one party had attempted to buy drugs using counterfeit cash. When the counterfeits were discovered, they said, Russell attacked DePhillips.

Hall said she did not believe her son was at fault in the incident. According to her, DePhillips and his girlfriend, who witnessed the shooting, had been visiting the father of one of the suspects. She said the suspects had been planning to rob that parent, and DePhillips was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"He's not the bad guy in this story," she said. "My son was not a drug addict.”

DePhillips had no criminal history in the state of Kentucky or Hamilton County.

Despite the three arrests, Newport police said Monday they believed witnesses had intentionally misled them at the the beginning of the investigation and the exact sequence of events remained unclear.

Newport police requested anyone with information about the shooting to call them at 859-292-3622 or the Confidential TIPS line at 859-261-TIPS (8477).