Still more evidence on how "joint" custody with violent fathers is putting women and children at risk. Dad PHILLIP CHAD DUNN is now on trial for the murder of his "estranged" wife. He "allegedly" stabbed her to death with a knife in front of his two young daughters--during a "custody swap" no less--after telling the eldest he was going to kill her mother.
Young girls testify in Gwinnett murder trial against father
By Andria Simmons
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The two young girls clutched teddy bears on Tuesday when they were asked to do the unspeakable: Testify against their father, who stands accused of killing their mother.
The Gwinnett County murder trial for Phillip Chad Dunn, 29, unfolded in a spellbinding manner, with a prosecutor asking the man's oldest daughter what her father told her last year on Valentine's Day, the day of the incident. The child's response was haunting.
"He said he was going to kill mommy because she had killed him on the inside," Cheyenne Dunn, 9, said.
The little girl in a brown dress turned loose of the teddy bear she was clutching with both hands to point out her father to the jury at the prosecutor's request. Phillip Dunn is on trial this week on charges of malice murder, felony murder and aggravated assault in the death of his estranged wife, Shelley Dyan Dunn, 27. He also faces two counts of third-degree cruelty to children.
The two daughters testified they were sitting inside their grandmother's vehicle when they saw Phillip Dunn attack their mother during a custody swap at a Walmart parking lot in Suwanee.
Zoe Dunn, 7, wore a ruffled denim dress and doodled on a coloring book as Gwinnett County District Attorney Christa Kirk questioned her. Asked if she knew why they were in court, the girl hesitated at first, looked down and blinked before replying, "It's hard."
Kirk asked Zoe Dunn how her father hurt her mother. While coloring with one hand and holding her teddy bear with the other, the young girl said, "With a knife."
Phillip Dunn looked down and dabbed at tears with a handkerchief throughout his daughters' testimony.
Dunn and his wife were separated at the time of the slaying, which prosecutors say was premeditated because Dunn allegedly told one of his daughters that he was going to kill Shelley Dunn before he took the girls to meet her.
Wystan Getz, Dunn's defense attorney, acknowledged to jurors during opening statements that Dunn killed his wife, but asked that they find him guilty of the lesser offense of voluntary manslaughter.
"It's our position that this homicide was the result of provocation and the heat of passion," Getz said. "His wife was in the process of leaving him at that time, and had met up with another man."
Also testifying Tuesday was Hugh Porter, a bystander who heard the commotion in the parking lot but initially dismissed it as Valentine's Day playfulness. Porter said he next heard little girls screaming "Daddy! Daddy!" Porter said he saw a man swinging at a woman who was on the ground and trying to fend him off with a few kicks.
Porter left the witness stand and laid on the floor to demonstrate the woman's kicks. Porter also testified that he tried to intervene and grabbed the man just as he went limp.
Phillip Dunn stabbed his wife and himself with a kitchen knife before tossing the weapon in the bed of the truck, according to prosecutors.
Porter said he didn't realize the woman was injured until he saw her lying nearby.
"We noticed she was kind of blue in her face and gasping for air," Porter said. "When we leaned her up to help her breathe, that's when I saw the left side of her back was bloodied up."
The girls in the vehicle kept asking for both parents, Porter said. The eldest daughter got out and looked for her dad, with Porter, according to his testimony, reassuring her that "her daddy is going to be all right."
Shelley Dunn was pronounced dead shortly after she was transported to an area hospital.