Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Ronald Silkworth began deliberations Thursday afternoon in the nearly five-year-old murder case against an Odenton man accused of shooting his boyhood friend.
Bashunn Phillips, 24, is charged with murder in the death of Shar-Ron Mason in December 2013. Someone crept up to Mason’s bedroom window in the middle of the night and fired through the glass, shooting the 19-year-old three times in his chest, prosecutors and defense attorneys said.
After years of postponements and procedural delays — both sides argued over the admissibility of particular cellphone evidence — the bench trial began Monday and proceeded with closing arguments Thursday.
Assistant State's Attorney Terri Morse argued the evidence placed Phillips near Mason’s house that night in Gambrills, gave him a motive to kill, and linked him to the handgun used in the crime.
But Phillips’ defense attorney, Heather Tierney, in her closing argument, pointed to evidence that the killer might have been one of two other men.
“This case truly is a whodunit,” Tierney said. “At the end of the day, neither the state and neither your honor is going to be able to say who.”
She hinged her defense on the testimony of a neighbor who said she saw the suspected gunman running away from the scene that night. The neighbor described the suspect as a man of medium build and average height; Phillips is 6 feet 3, his defense attorney said.
“She did not describe a tall, large person,” Tierney said. “She described medium build, 5-foot-10 to 5-foot-11. That’s a big difference.”
Tierney suggested to the judge two other men who could have been the killer. They were recorded on jail calls discussing the gun with Phillips, she said. And like Phillips, she said, they were also known to have a grudge with Mason.
Police said the killing stemmed from a fight two months earlier between Phillips and Mason. The two men, who were boyhood friends, lived about two miles apart.
Tierney asked the judge to consider whether a fight was enough of a reason to kill.
“This motive was not a motive,” she said. “We have a lot of people who aren’t being honest, but the state has chosen to pick one of them out as the shooter, even though Bashunn Phillips does not meet the physical description.”
Prosecutors say Phillips left his house on Maytime Drive in Gambrills in the middle of the night and crept into Mason’s back yard. Morse told the judge Phillips might have knocked on Mason’s bedroom window to draw the 19-year-old close before firing.
“It appears something drew him to that window. Maybe a knock? We don’t know,” she said. “This was obviously planned. This was done in the middle of the night.”
Morse presented evidence that showed Phillips’ cellphone pinging off cellular towers at the time of the killing. She said the location of the pings placed Phillips in the back yard.
Additionally, police found a box of ammunition at Phillips’ home.
“There’s a number of cartridges missing,” Morse said.
She said the gun used in the killing was found hidden inside Phillips’ house. Morse also played recorded jail calls of Phillips asking his brother about his “$300.” They talked about the location of the “$300,” which Morse said was their code for the gun.
“It’s very clear from these calls that they are having a conversation about the murder weapon,” she told the judge.
Phillips’ brother, Tymaine Phillips, 21, is scheduled for trial next month for being an accessory and on a related gun charge, according to online court records.
Silkworth is expected to issue his verdict in the case against Bashunn Phillips on Wednesday morning, said Emily Morse, spokeswoman for the state’s attorney.