QUEENSBURY — The Glens Falls man who has been charged with stabbing a man to death on a Glens Falls street a few months ago initially blamed a “black” man but then minutes later told police he acted in “self-defense,” court records show.
Documents recently filed in the case of Skylar C. Phillips include numerous witness statements and affidavits from police officers who questioned the men and women who were at the scene of the June 8 killing of 31-year-old Glens Falls resident Charles Werner.
Phillips, 19, faces second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter and lesser charges for a melee that left Werner dead from a knife wound to the chest. Police said Werner met Phillips and Nicholas Hamel, 21, to buy prescription drugs, but a fight ensued when Werner grabbed a bag of Xanax pills and tried to flee.
Phillips, Hamel and a man alleged to have picked up the discarded bag of pills at the stabbing scene, Richard L. Rothaupt, 24, of Queensbury, were all arrested and questioned by police. Hamel was charged with manslaughter and lesser charges and Rothaupt with felony drug counts.
Phillips was taken into custody by Warren County sheriff’s Patrol Officer Dan Habshi, who wrote that Phillips initially tried to blame someone else.
“I saw a black guy on a bicycle fighting with them. He stabbed them, then rode off,” Habshi quoted Phillips as saying. “I think this must have been because of a bad drug deal.”
Phillips, though, later in the evening told Glens Falls Police Sgt. Miguel Chico that he acted in “self-defense,” court records show. He also allegedly exclaimed, “I only meant to stab him twice,” court records show.
The men were questioned at length by investigators after they were taken to the Glens Falls Police station, and the interviews were videotaped. But the videos of those interviews have not been released.
A large hunting knife that had blood on it was recovered near where Werner was found, and Hamel was found to have a folding knife in his pocket, records show.
Hamel, 19, initially told police that Werner had a knife and that he didn’t know who stabbed Werner. He also told police he may have been knocked unconscious during the fight. Hamel also suffered a knife wound to one of his arms.
“Hamel stated that the guy on the ground (Werner) tried to rob him,” Glens Falls Police Officer Andrew Mija wrote in an affidavit.
A number of people in the densely populated area where the fight happened reported seeing different parts of it, one saying a “big black hunting knife” was thrown from the pile of people fighting on a sidewalk.
“To me it looked like they were wrestling because I didn’t see any punches thrown,” witness Michael Rogers told police.
Two other people who police said were at the fight scene were charged in connection with the drug activity that was at the root of the case. Rothaupt and Erica L. Cooper, 34, of Queensbury, each face felony charges of criminal possession of a controlled substance.
The case has been adjourned without date as Warren County Judge John Hall considers pretrial motions and prosecutors await the results of DNA tests on evidence. All of the defendants have pleaded not guilty and are being held in Warren County Jail, pending further court action.