SPOKANE, Wash. - The wheels of justice set a new speed record Tuesday morning when a homicide suspect attending his arraignment hearing pleaded guilty just two weeks after a fatal stabbing at the STA Bus Plaza.
The rapid fire resolution shocked other attorneys and defendants in the courtroom because this was supposed to be an arraignment for Donald Phillips, who was suspected of killing Sean Oie, but Phillips decided he didn't want to waste any more of the court's time and plead guilty to murdering Oie.
Even after his guilty plea, he explained in a jailhouse interview that he felt the murder was justified.
"I was caught on camera following him, it was premeditated, they know it and I know it and there's really now way around that," he explained.
Phillips is pragmatic to a fault; when he decided to kill Oie inside the STA Bus Plaza he shied away from using a gun for safety reasons.
"I just didn't walk up to that man in the STA Plaza and brutally murder that man for no reason. I was originally going to shoot. but I did not want to hurt anybody else in the area with a gun and projectiles so I chose to stab him," Phillips explained.
Phillips says he stabbed Oie because he alleged the victim deliberately gave a teenager too much heroin so he could sexually assault her.
"He raped and overdosed a girl on heroin that was very close to my family and she was 17 years old and he got away with it," Phillips claimed.
While he makes no bones about carrying out his form of street justice he worries about Oie's survivors.
"My whole thing is I want to let the family know, the victim's family know, how remorseful I am for them. I don't want them to feel one ounce of pain and if I could take it back I would," he said.
Phillips said in the STA surveillance video you can see him pursuing Oie inside the bus station but backed away when he realized his knife had found its mark.
"I stabbed him one time, I was true where I stabbed him and after I saw that I had taken care of the business I was there to do then I was done and I walked away from it," he said.
So at what would have been his arraignment Tuesday Phillips plead guilty and was sentenced to 28 years in prison. He expects to be released from prison when he's 70 years old.
Why did Phillips plead guilty? He made the surprise move as part of a plea bargain struck with prosecutors.
If he hadn't pled guilty he would have been facing a third strike offense if prosecutors had brought in some previous violent offenses from Tennessee. If prosecutors had done that Phillips would have faced life in prison so he's hoping he'll still be alive when he's released.