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Phillips found guilty of murder, DUI, assault

A jury convicted an Anchorage woman of murder for causing a crash on the Seward Highway last year, while drunk behind the wheel.

The victim’s family called the decision a, “little piece of justice,” saying too many people take chances and drive drunk.

Lori Phillips’ attorney says she isn’t making excuses, but there’s there’s a backstory to how things got this far.

The wreck in November of 2009 killed 23-year-old Louis Clement and critically injured his girlfriend, Joyua Stovall.

Stovall’s family thought the jury might come back with a lesser charge of manslaughter or negligible homicide, but they figure the facts resonated with the jury.

“It was all of it. It was her prior convictions, it was her blood alcohol, and what the state pointed out her lack of … respect for human life,” said Jamin Stovall, Joyua’s brother.

A blood test showed Phillips was four times over the legal limit. Experts estimate she had between 13 and 18 drinks the day of the crash.

Phillips’ history of drunk driving spans nearly 20 years with five arrests, and now three convictions.

“She’s probably gotten away with it so many times that she probably thought she would get off again,” Stovall said.

Phillips’ attorney Rex Butler said she had a lot of problems at home and had turned to alcohol.

“When a person drinks, a lot of times there are underlying issues,” Butler said.

Butler says Phillips had been physically abused by her daughter. He says the 22-year-old took advantage of her mom, but Phillips still depended on her to get around because her license had been revoked for a prior DUI.

“I think there is some counseling that needs to occur to help my client get over a lot of things. I think she’s relieved to move on to the next fight, which will be in the appellate courts,” Butler said.

Butler plans to appeal the appropriateness of the charges and anything else that can be reasonably appealed, he said.

“I think this is a manslaughter charge. I don’t think it’s even close or in the realm of murder 2. Murder 2 is like that woman in Bethel who beat her child to death, you understand what I’m saying,” Butler said.

Joyua Stovall was not in court. She’s recovering from a recent surgery.

“She’s doing a little better. She’s in a lot of pain,” her brother said.

Phillips said she’s sorry and isn’t making excuses and said she hopes to get the chance to tell that to the family. 

In addition to the murder and DUI charge, Phillips was convicted of assault, driving without a license, and reckless driving.

She will be sentenced in March. A murder 2 sentence can range from 10 to 99 years in prison.

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