Friends, church members called as character witnesses for Phillips

Published 7:20 am Thursday, November 13, 2008

Defense attorney Riley Powell put four character witnesses on the stand Wednesday before Phillips was sentenced, including Ted Watson, June Simpson, George Gantt and Harold Young.

All of them agreed that Phillips shouldn’t serve time for the crimes of which she was convicted in October.

“None of us are without sin,” Watson said. “I believe Sherrie’s done a lot of good in the past.”

Simpson testified that she has known Phillips for more than 40 years.

“She’s been a true friend to me. She stood with me through thick and thin and I intend to stand with her through thick and thin.”

Simpson said “I don’t see where going to jail would do any good,” and spoke of Phillips’ involvement in the charity founded in memory of Simpson’s late granddaughter, Meredith’s Miracles.

“Sherrie has been instrumental in helping get this off the ground,” Simpson said. “She’s been a good friend, wife, mother, grandmother and daughter. I hate to see her have to go off.”

Gantt, who retired as the enforcement director of the Alabama ABC, testified that he and Phillips are members of the same church and Sunday School class.

“She’s been humiliated. She has lost her job. I don’t know about her retirement income. She’s lost respect from the community,” he said, adding that the case against her has affected “her, her family and it has affected Covington County.”

“How much suffering do you desire,” he asked. When asked by the defense attorney if he believed Phillips would benefit from serving time, he said, “I doubt anybody really benefits from that. I think you learn how to do future crimes in prison.”

Young testified that his is a business relationship with Phillips.

“I was not put on earth to judge anybody,” Young said, adding that he didn’t know the former judge well.