New evidence clears accused Fontaine killer, defense says

Claims Benito Flores was wrongly targeted

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

By Jane Singletary
Oxford Eagle

OXFORD - New evidence uncovered in the murder of prominent real-estate developer Philip Fontaine proves innocent the man facing an Oct. 1 trial in connection with his death, said the suspect's attorney in a press conference Tuesday morning.

Pamela Lipscomb said her team discovered a trove of previously undetected evidence that clears Benito Flores of the crime and instead implicates one of the original suspects in the case.

"This is a significant development in the case that clearly proves Mr. Flores had nothing to do with the unfortunate death of Mr. Fontaine," said Lipscomb as she stood on the steps of the Yoknapatawpha County Courthouse.

Lipscomb declined to reveal details about the evidence or name the other suspect, saying the information first needed to be shared with the prosecution.

Calvin Dollarhide, who is the lead prosecutor in the case, was not at the press conference. When reached later at his office, he said he knows nothing about the new evidence but dismissed it as a likely ploy to sway potential jurors.

"Whatever it is that Ms. Lipscomb thinks she has, I can assure you that it will not change the facts in this case," Dollarhide said. "Mr. Flores is clearly guilty, and his attorney is just grandstanding."

The case dates back to Jan. 14, 2012, when Fontaine's wife found her husband dead in the couple's home from several stab wounds.

After an extensive investigation with several potential suspects, Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's detectives charged Flores with the murder on March 6. He was later indicted by the grand jury.

Flores, a 37-year-old day laborer, previously worked for Fontaine and was living with the victim's housekeeper at the time of the murder. He has always maintained his innocence.

Lipscomb said her client was an easy target because he's an out-of-towner with Hispanic origins and alleged detectives fingered him to cover up a shoddy investigation.

Flores had moved to Oxford only months before the murder from Texas, where he was born and raised.

Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff spokeswoman Elizabeth Jones denied Lipscomb's charges, saying the department's team built a solid case against Flores that would be proven in court.

Jury selection begins Oct. 1.

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