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Skylar Phillips court

Skylar Phillips is led into Warren County Court on Friday for his June 15 arraignment on murder and manslaughter charges in the June 8 death of Charles Werner.

QUEENSBURY — A Warren County judge on Wednesday instructed the Glens Falls man accused of murder for a June stabbing death to give a DNA sample to be used in the case.

Judge John Hall directed that Skylar C. Phillips give a sample of cells to be collected by a swab from his mouth on a request from the Warren County District Attorney’s Office.

Phillips’ lawyer, Gregory Teresi, told Hall he had discussed with Phillips whether he should oppose the request.

“There are some avenues where we could file a motion,” he said.

But he said they determined the district attorney’s office had probable cause and likely met its burden to win the motion, so the defense would not oppose the request.

Phillips, 19, is accused of the June 8 stabbing death of a 31-year-old Glens Falls resident, Charles Werner, on a sidewalk on Union Street during a brawl over a drug deal gone bad.

Warren County District Attorney Jason Carusone said comparison of DNA from suspects in serious crimes to evidence recovered during an investigation is standard procedure during a prosecution.

Co-defendant Richard L. Rothaupt, accused of being involved in the drug activity before and after the fatal brawl, was compelled to give a sample last week, and it was unclear whether one would be sought from the other man charged in the brawl — Phillips’ former roommate, Nicholas Hamel, 19.

Carusone said there have been no plea talks. Phillips, though, has consented to a “pre-plea investigation,” which would give Hall information about his background to use in determining what plea deal and sentencing parameters would be appropriate.

“Right now we are in the (pretrial evidence) discovery and motions stage,” Carusone said.

Phillips has pleaded not guilty to counts of second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, first-degree assault, tampering with physical evidence and criminal possession of a controlled substance in connection with the killing and drug sale that led to it.

Police said Werner was meeting Phillips and several others to buy a large quantity of the prescription drug Xanax, but Werner grabbed the bag of drugs and tried to run off. The suspects caught him, and Werner was stabbed in the chest during a melee that ensued.

Hamel has been charged with first-degree manslaughter, two counts of felony assault and criminal possession of a controlled substance for his alleged role in the fight and related drug crimes.

Two other people who were accused of being involved in the drug activity surrounding the brawl face charges as well. Rothaupt, 24, of Glens Falls, faces felony and misdemeanor counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, and Erica L. Cooper, 34, of Queensbury, was charged with felony criminal possession of a controlled substance.

All four have pleaded not guilty and are being held in Warren County Jail, pending further court action. No trial dates have been set.

Phillips faces up to 25-years-to-life in prison, while Hamel faces up to 25 years.

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reporter

Don Lehman covers crime and Warren County government for The Post-Star. His work can be found on Twitter @PS_CrimeCourts and on poststar.com/app/blogs.

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