Commonwealth Journal

November 22, 2013

Local teen takes Alford plea for role in murder plot

by Heather Tomlinson
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset — A Pulaski County teenager who took part in a plot to murder his parents entered an Alford plea to the related charges this week.

Tyler A. Phelps, 18, pleaded guilty by way of Alford plea to one count of criminal solicitation to commit murder in connection with the Jan. 16, 2013 incident at the Phelps’ home on Spring Valley Drive in Pulaski County.

An Alford plea is entered when the defendant maintains his or her innocence but acknowledges that enough evidence exists to bring about a conviction.

Phelps was charged initially with two counts of criminal solicitation to commit murder. Phelps and his friend, Paul Scott Young, also 18, were arrested after Young tried to stab Edwin D. Phelps, 43, and Laura E. Phelps, 44, in their home.

Young in October pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted murder. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Police said Tyler Phelps let Young into the home he shared with his parents and asked that Young kill them while they slept in their bed. Young indicated in previous court hearings that Tyler Phelps asked Young to kill Edwin and Laura Phelps.

Pulaski County Detective Scott Trotter testified during a preliminary hearing that Young “lost his nerve” one time — returning to Tyler Phelps’ bedroom in the family’s basement —after he learned the couple’s bedroom door was locked. Trotter said Young told him that Tyler Phelps again asked him to go back and kill his parents, and Young turned around and went back upstairs to the bedroom.

Young broke into the couple’s bedroom and attacked Edwin Phelps with a knife, and Trotter stated Edwin Phelps was cut 10 to 11 times. Trotter said most of those wounds were limited to Edwin Phelps’ arm, but he said he was also cut on his ear, and he suffered a puncture wound to his temple that caused a skull fracture.

Despite those injuries, Edwin Phelps reportedly was able to subdue Young until authorities arrived.

Laura Phelps only suffered minor injuries in the scuffle.

Along with the 10-year sentence, Young is classified on one of the attempted murder counts as a violent offender because Edwin Phelps suffered significant injuries in the attack. That means Young will be required to complete 85 percent of the 10-year sentence before he’s eligible for parole.

Pulaski County Commonwealth’s Attorney Eddy F. Montgomery on Thursday recommended a 10-year sentence for Tyler Phelps. Montgomery said he’s asked that Tyler Phelps also be classified as a violent offender based on the seriousness of Edwin Phelps’ injuries — which would mandate that Tyler Phelps complete 85 percent of his sentence before parole as well.

A sentencing hearing is set for Tyler Phelps for Dec. 19.

Montgomery said Pulaski Circuit Judge Jeffrey T. Burdette will rule then on whether to classify Tyler Phelps as a violent offender.