Trial starts, details emerge in 2 shooting deaths in 2018

·5 min read

Jun. 10—ANDERSON — New details and conflicting information have emerged during the first two days of testimony in a trial surrounding the shooting deaths of two people in 2018.

Jordan Zirkle, 33, is charged with two counts of Level 1 felony aiding, inducing or causing murder in the July 29, 2018, shooting of Trinity Parker, 39, and the Aug. 6, 2018, shooting of David L. Phillips II, 36.

In 2020, Daniel Jones accepted a plea agreement and admitted to shooting both Parker and Phillips. Authorities and co-defendants in the case say Zirkle was present during the murders.

Brittney Vontress-Cox, Taylor Wheeler and David Roberts are all charged as co-defendants in the fatal shooting of Parker and Phillips.

For his role, Jones was sentenced by Madison Circuit Court Division 6 Judge Mark Dudley to 60 years for murder, 60 years for aiding, inducing or causing murder and 14 years for criminal confinement.

The causing murder and criminal confinement sentences will run concurrently and consecutive to Jones' murder sentence for a total of 120 years.

Jury selection took place on Monday and opening arguments were made on Tuesday.

Madison County Deputy Prosecutor Daniel Kopp's opening statement took less than five minutes.

"This case is about justice," Kopp told jurors. "It's about holding the defendant accountable for the crimes he committed against Trinity Parker and David Phillips II."

Kopp said the plan to kill Parker began in an old bus Zirkle was living in while he converted it to a recreational vehicle. The vehicle was parked on property that belonged to Zirkle's grandmother and Jones was staying with him.

Zirkle was introduced to Jones through his mother and knew him for about a month before the homicides, according to courtroom testimony.

Kopp said Zirkle and Jones were trying to find a place for Roberts to "hide out" because he was wanted on a warrant when Roberts asked if he could have Parker join him in hiding.

Parker was in an "on again, off again" relationship with Roberts and the two were close friends. Both Kopp and Zirkle's defense attorney, Bryan Williams, agree Jones and Zirkle had not met Parker prior to July 29.

Kopp said Jones started to inquire about Parker and was told she was a "snitch." That's when Jones made Roberts have Parker meet them at a parking lot near a hotel in Anderson and they drove her to an abandoned home in Grant County and where Jones killed her.

"Daniel Jones shot Trinity Parker in the head," Kopp told jurors. "After he shot her in the head the defendant, Jordan Zirkle, said shoot her again. Make sure she is dead and Daniel Jones did so."

Kopp said all three men left Parker's body in the home and it was a couple of days before Jones and Zirkle saw Roberts again. Jones told Roberts to meet him and Zirkle at a root beer stand.

They took Roberts to the Rangeline Nature Preserve and "beat him up to keep him quiet about the first murder," Kopp told jurors.

"Jordan Zirkle handed Daniel Jones his cigarette and then proceeded to beat up David Roberts to try to silence him," he said. "To make sure he didn't report the first murder, that being Trinity Parker."

Phillips was Roberts' best friend.

When Jones was unable to find Roberts after he was beaten up, Jones had Vontress-Cox contact Phillips under the pretense of buying his food stamps. Kopp said Phillips was then told to contact Roberts, but Roberts refused to meet with him.

According to the deputy prosecutor, that's when Wheeler drove Jones, Zirkle, Vontress-Cox, and Phillips out to the nature preserve and Phillips was taken into the woods by Jones and Zirkle while the women waited in the car.

Jones shot Phillips twice in the head.

Defense attorney Williams, however, told jurors Kopp neglected to tell them that while they will hear a lot of evidence and hear from a lot of witnesses, only two people will have anything to say about his client.

"David Roberts and Taylor Wheeler, that's it," Williams said during his opening statement of more than 10 minutes.

He said they would hear from police officers and pathologists, but none of them will have anything to say about Zirkle.

Williams then said the state's "star witnesses" lied repeatedly to police and neither knew Zirkle prior to the murders.

"They never heard of him, never seen him before — never heard his name in the streets," Williams told jurors. "This is not Jordan Zirkle's world."

He said Jones pulled Zirkle into a world of homelessness and drug addiction.

Williams said that after the jurors listen to Roberts and Wheeler he wants them to question if they had to make an important decision in their own lives based on their testimony, and if they would — "then you ought to find him guilty."

"If you say there is no way in hell I would trust either of them to make a decision in my life, then it's not guilty," Williams said in conclusion.

Among those testifying this week have been some of the victims' relatives and family members of the defendant.

Zirkle's trial before Judge Dudley is being broadcast live online at https://public.courts.in.gov/incs#/. Testimony is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. Thursday.

Follow Traci L. Miller

@_TraciMiller on Twitter, email her at traci.miller@heraldbulletin.com, or

call her at 765-640-4805.

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