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Joshua Earl Patrick Phillips (born March 17, 1984) is an American murderer from Jacksonville, Florida who was convicted in July 1999 of murdering 8-year-old Maddie Clifton in November 1998 when he was 14 years old. He is currently serving a sentence of life in prison. The murder was the subject of national television coverage, including a documentary on 48 Hours titled "Why did Josh Kill?
On Tuesday November 3rd, 1998 at around 5:00PM. Maddie Clifton went out to play like she always did before. She went to the 14-year old Joshua Phillips's house (even though Josh's father didn't let visitors while he was gone out). Later, they decided to play baseball, Joshua hit the ball and the ball landed in Maddie's eye, She then started screaming and crying. Joshua became scared and started to hit her with a baseball bat so that she can stop screaming. He then took her up to his room and he pulled out his pocket knife and stabbed her about 11 times in total. His father came home and he acted like nothing had happened. Later, Shiela Clifton (Maddie Clifton's Mother) called Maddie and Maddie's sister over for dinner. Only Maddie's sister came there. Sheila then called 911 and reported that Maddie was missing. Over 700 volunteers searched to find Maddie Clifton. (Everyone thought that she was abducted) Even Joshua and his mom were looking for her.
About 7 days later, Joshua's Mother went to clean his room when she saw something leaking out of his bed, she went to check out what it was, she found a foot - the body was claimed to be Maddie's body. Later that day, Joshua was arrested at his school and was taken to jail. He later found out that he will be in prison until he dies one day in prison. About almost 10 years after his arrest, it was later found that Maddie's body was left naked, which means that Joshua Phillips tried to rape her dead body. Previously, before the murder even happened, Joshua was talking about sexual intercourse next to Maddie Clifton and Jessie Clifton. (Maddie's Older Sister).
Joshua Phillips was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole on August 26th, 1999.
In 2002, an appeals court upheld Phillips's conviction. In December 2004, Melissa Phillips began to seek a new trial for her son, noting that his young age at the time of the murder should have carried more weight in his sentence. In 2005, new hearing dates were set for Phillips. In 2008, two of the officials behind his sentence, States Attorney Harry Shorstein and Sheriff Nat Glover, confirmed their belief that Phillips deserved a jail sentence, but admitted having second thoughts about the no-parole life sentence for the 14 year old. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that sentencing juveniles to mandatory life without parole is unconstitutional. It was unclear at that time if Phillips' attorney would seek re-sentencing.
In November 2015, Phillips' attorneys were considering the Supreme Court ruling as a basis to file a re-sentencing hearing. In September 2016, after Phillips' attorneys successfully appealed the court, he was granted a new sentencing hearing as a result of retroactive application of the Supreme Court's ruling which declared his current sentence, mandatory life in prison without parole, unconstitutional for juvenile offenders. A resentencing date was initially set for February 2017. In February 2017, Phillips' lawyer asked for more time to prepare and subsequently a new sentencing hearing was set for June 2017. At the hearing, Clifton's mother requested for his sentence be upheld. On November 17, 2017, Phillips was re-sentenced to life in prison, but is eligible for parole in 2023.
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