Phillip Haire was due in court for his trial Tuesday on 10 charges, including three life felonies, for shooting at a cop, shooting at his father, and carjacking a man on U.S. 1. His own attorney had previously urged him to take a plea. He’s steadily refused even as procedural pre-trial rulings made it even more difficult for him to build a defense.
Haire has claimed he was being framed, that someone else had done the shooting, and his attorneys have tried to argue that mentally he was not in command of his faculties at the time of the shooting, though they never presented an insanity defense.
In a last-minute reversal, Haire, 21, this afternoon took a plea as he stood before Circuit Judge Terence Perkins, with Sheriff Rick Staly one of three people in the audience behind him. His parents were the other two.
Haire was sentenced to 25 years in prison followed by 10 years’ probation. In actuality, he could be out in 18.5 years.
Assistant State Attorney Jason Lewis had offered a 25-to-30-year deal when last in court with Haire on Oct. 25, when Haire turned it down. That offer carried a 20-year minimum mandatory term, as did today’s deal.
The hearing was so last-minute that not even court administrators were aware of it, and no felony clerk was in court to record the proceedings. It was an extraordinary situation, but Perkins said he was willing to proceed as long as the hearing was on audio and video, which it was.
Compared to the three life terms Haire was facing, the sentence was relatively generous, especially when time for good behavior and credit for time served are calculated: Haire has been in jail a year and a half since his arrest on May 3, 2017. That’s credited to his sentence. He will also be eligible for release after serving 85 percent of his sentence. That means a little over 20 years, going back to May 3, 2017. In other words, Haire may be eligible for release in some 20 years, before he turns 40. (an earlier version of this story incorrectly placed the eligibility for early release at 80 percent rather than 85.)
“Obviously it was in his best interest to plea because I’m sure he would have been convicted, and he was facing life in prison,” Staly said in an interview shortly after the hearing. “While I would have preferred life in prison, I think this was a fair sentence and I’m just glad we didn’t have to bury a deputy sheriff and no one else was injured, whether that be his parents or the person he carjacked.”
That May 1, 2017, Haire had been texting his parents that he was going to harm his father. His family members were concerned enough that sheriff’s deputies had been to the house. Then-Sgt. Phil Reynolds was at the Haire’s London Drive house when Phillip drove by and shot at Reynolds and his father, who were outside the house. He did not hit them. Haire then fled, wrecked his car on U.S. 1, car-jacked a man, and fled. He turned himself in two days later.
The sheriff had spoken to Reynolds about a potential plea. “He’s the one that has to testify and he’s the victim,” the sheriff said of Reynolds, “so if he’s satisfied with it, then I support that decision, and he told me that he would not agree to anything less than the 25 years, but he was satisfied with the 25.” Reynolds has since been promoted to commander. He’s now in charge of the Youth Services section, which includes the contingent of more than a dozen school resource deputies in public and charter schools.
“I’d like to thank the men and women of the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office during and after this incident,” Reynolds was quoted as saying in a sheriff’s release after the sentencing. “After being involved in an incident like this, it proves that violence is not the answer with any family issues. I do wish his family the best moving forward.”
Not having to testify would be a plus for Reynolds, the sheriff said. “Having been shot on duty and having gone to trial myself and having testified in a four-day trial in my shooting,” Staly said of his on-duty shooting incident in 1978, “I’m sure he’s relieved that he does not have to re-live this incident in court, because you literally see your life flash in front of you. when I got shot I was down on the ground, I specifically remember, I knew i’d been hit in the arm, I knew I’d been hit in the chest, I was 21 years old, I remember thinking I always wondered how I was going to die, and now I know. Fortunately, I did not.”
Perkins did not say anything about the sentence. He heard Lewis read a summation of the incident and addressed Haire directly. Haire, who’s typically spoken in monosyllables and under his breath and could be mercurial in his court appearances–he once threatened a county judge and last month got up in his shackles and sought to leave the courtroom in the middle of a hearing–was polite and straightforward as he tendered his plea next to Jeremy Buckmaster, his attorney.
Haire was found guilty on charges of carjacking with a firearm, burglary with a firearm and attempted second degree murder of a law
enforcement officer. Once released on probation , he will have lost his driver’s license for life, and for the 10 years of probation will have to submit to rigorous supervisory terms, including unannounced and warrantless searches, mental health and drug-screening requirements.
Staly and his parents shook hands after the hearing. It was the first time they’d met. “I’m sorry we had to meet this way,” the sheriff told them.
Haire had been one of the inmates who helped keep another inmate from killing himself earlier this year, an incident that a psychologist told the court helped him turn around his demeanor for the better in jail. Staly had included Haire among those he commended for their intervention.
“As far as what he did in our jail, even the most violent and prolific offenders once in a while can do something right and I recognize them for doing something right,” Staly said. “But he still has a penalty to pay for trying to kill one of my deputies and one of his parents, and doing a car jacking.” It does appear that Haire has become more compliant at the jail, however. “In the very beginning he was a very problematic inmate and non-cooperative,” Staly said. “I’ve not had any recent reports on him so to my knowledge he has behaved, at least in the last number of months.”
He will be processed put of the jail and turned over to the custody of the Florida prison system, first going to a prison commonly referred to as a “reception center,” where he will be classified, then transferred again to a permanent prison. The Florida prison system makes no effort to keep prisoners close to their families, routinely transferring them to prisons hundreds of miles away.
I dont feel any empathy. I want to live my life w/out the concern that people like this wont Rob, shoot. Carjack , etc…me or anyone else. Good riddance….
howard tessler says
for god’s sake how will he know how to operate an I-Phone 32 upon his release .
Sick of this says
Really people this young man was shot his life is ruined. He had a fight with his dad, things got bad out of hand. Yes he should be in trouble but the sentence is too hard. He needs help. Stop tossing these young people away. Give him the help. He needs. In Flagler county you can sexually assault a child and walk free. Praying for Phil and his family…
Good Job says
FlaglerLive, Another Fantastic job of reporting a troublesome problem, Which will not be ours again for a quarter century.
Nancy N. says
It’s 85%, not 80% of the sentence, that is mandated under state law before an inmate can be released for good behavior.
Speak the truth says
25 years is better than s slap on the wrist. Glad Reynolds and his dad were not hot with a bullet. This jerk deserves to go to prison and I am sure he will get in trouble in there and add to his time.
He tried to murder his Dad and a Cop, and carjacked a guy. Public threats like him belong behind bars, away from children and other people they would harm.
this sentence is a bit light for this guy, one of my friends lives on London Dr and haire robbed his vehicle(before he was shot,by the way, so dont use that excuse),He has always been a bad apple.
@sick of this HIS record and choices speak for themselves boohoo tohis football pipedream. He carjacked people at gunpoint and runs around shooting at his own family . Smh
So let break this down here. This guy is obviously wrong in what he did that much is clear. But lets compare. He didn’t kill anyone. He has PTSD from getting shot before. And you want to send him to prison for the rest of his life? Didn’t that Veteran who shot up the European Village and stabbed a couple guys one of them in the face only get 7 years probation? Where is the social justice??? Let me answer that. Obviously not in Florida where sentencing is carried out disproportionately and not according to the law. This is blatant in your face social injustice racism call it what you want. If you’re white and shoot up a public place and injure several people you get probation but if you’re a person of color and do something very stupid but don’t actually injure anyone then you get put away for 25 years??? Open your eyes. The court system in your town is corrupt as can be.
While this seems an appropriate sentence and the public needs to be protected, this family will remain in pain. I hope for healing for all involved, especially the victims. And I hope Mr. Haire takes whatever opportunities there are in prison towards rehabilitation and uses them wisely.
The Truth says
He got what he deserved, you do the crime; you pay the time.
Josh Davis says
Reynolds is as classy, decent and professional of a human being as I’ve ever known. If he’s happy, I’m happy.
Concerned Citizen says
Another useless plea arranged by our inept justice system.
This guy had a repeat history of violent crimes. He got shot during a drug deal near his house if I remember correctly so he was no innocent saint then either.
This guy is a straight up thug who has no regard for human life. He chose to get into an argument with his family. He then chose to make threats and then try to carry out those threats.
He shot at people and car jacked someone. My sympathy lies with those people affected by this. Not him.
We keep using the term mistake when someone commits a serious offense and goes to jail. It’s not a mistake but rather a poor choice. And if you decide to commit that poor choice then you pay the consequences. A mistake is making a wrong turn. Not trying to kill people.
He should have received the maximum penalty with no parole. Instead the mental health card was thrown down and our justice system got wishy washy.
The courts really need to start sentencing properly. I could care less about back logs and full prisons. Start doing your jobs !!
Pleas and probation are for first time non violent offenders who show they can turn things around. Not repeat offenders who have no regard for even their own life.
ZHARIAH HAIRE says
for everyone that has any negativity to say and claim they are religious you lie, as God says he is the only one who can judge another individual, It is amazing how you all claim to know him but you only see his actions you can meet many people who will testify and say that he is a good person who just happened to go down the wrong path which many people do. And for anyone who has any problems with my comment you can come to me directly . thanks in advance keep all comments to yourself.
Along with you will all vote for a rapist to be the leader of our county smh to all of that and youre pathetic remarks.
Concerned Citizen says
@ Zhariah Haire
Since you challenged us.
I am not religious and am not judging. I understand the need to defend your relative I really do. However he ran around shooting people and carjacking. I don’t care what issues he might or might not have those are serious offenses and deserve serious penalties.
Put yourself in his fathers or the deputies place. Even better put yourself in the carjacking victims place. Here you are driving down the road and someone takes your vehicle by force. He tried to hurt people multiple times and was lucky he didn’t.
I’m sorry you feel angered by the lack of sympathy towards your relative. He chose to commit the crimes he did. He chose to put innocent people’s lives at risk. These were choices. Not a mistake. Having a bad day after an argument with your father doesn’t give you the right to try and kill people.
I have said it many times before and will say it again. We live in a society where we want to victim blame. It needs to stop and we need to hold perpetrators accountable. Start sentencing accordingly and maybe this will slow these crimes down some.
@ anon look at his eight page rap sheet cmon smh the race card geez