Louisiana woman could face death penalty in death of former Tulsa boy

Thursday, November 15th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ A Louisiana woman could face the death penalty if convicted of the first-degree murder of a former Tulsa child.

A grand jury found there was enough evidence to charge Patricia Phillips in the Oct. 2 death of 4-year-old Caleb Phillips, who died in Bossier City after suffering from starvation, severe injuries and drifting into a coma.

Patricia Phillips, Caleb's adoptive mother, is being held without bond in the Bossier Parish Jail and is expected to be arraigned next week. Bossier Assistant District Attorney Mike Pitman said he will file a notice of intent to seek the death penalty during her arraignment.

Pitman said ``the age of the victim and the particularly heinous nature of the death,'' prompted his office to seek the death penalty.

Patricia Phillips is the wife of Caleb's uncle, Terry Phillips. The couple adopted him after his biological mother, Tonya Renee Phillips, died in 1999.

Caleb moved with the couple to Louisiana when Terry Phillips, who is in the Air Force, was stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base at Bossier City. Before that, the child lived in Tulsa with his great-aunt, Jan Todd.

Terry Phillips was dispatched to the Persian Gulf area after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks _ seven days before Caleb died.

But Todd said doctors have said some of his injuries were inflicted before the adoptive father left. Terry Phillips was sent back from the Persian Gulf after the child's death and is being investigated in connection with the case, Pitman said.

Bossier City is located outside of Shreveport in northwest Louisiana.

Todd said Caleb's body was brought back to Oklahoma on Oct. 6. He was buried next to his mother in Sapulpa's Greenhill Cemetery on Oct. 8, she said.