SNOW HILL – A Pittsville man convicted in April of first-degree murder and other charges in the stabbing death of a Pocomoke man in his home in March 2008 was sentenced this week to life in prison plus 20 years.
On April 8, a Worcester County jury deliberated for a little more than an hour before returning guilty verdicts on first-degree murder and other charges against Charles Robert Phillips, 30, for the stabbing death of William Nibblett, 77, in his Pocomoke home in March 2008. The convicted killer was back in court for sentencing on Monday and was sentenced to life in prison for the first-degree murder charge and an additional 20 years for an armed robbery conviction, which will be served consecutively to the sentence in the murder charge.
Following the announcement of the verdict in April, Groton deferred sentencing pending the completion of a pre-sentence investigation, which is protocol in murder cases, but it appeared at the time Phillips could be facing life in prison without the possibility of parole. In December, state prosecutors filed notice they would seek life without the possibility of parole for Phillips, but the maximum sentence was taken off the table briefly when a plea bargain was tentatively reached.
The tentative plea bargain called for a guilty plea to first-degree murder if the notice to seek life in prison without parole was rescinded. However, plea bargain talks ended when Phillips asked for a postponement of his trial in order to seek legal counsel.
On March 6, 2008, Nibblett’s daughters went to his Pocomoke residence to check on him after a man for whom their father was supposed to do a plumbing job for reported he uncharacteristically failed to show up for work. Nibblett’s daughters repeatedly tried to call him, only to get busy signals, before going to the home to check on his welfare. When they went into the home through an open back door, they found their father’s body on the living room floor with a knife in his chest.
Evidence at the residence and witness testimony eventually connected Phillips to the crime. Phillips was located in Salisbury the next day after investigators were able to connect him to a car seen in front of the victim’s home at the time of the murder. He was later arrested and essentially admitted killing Nibblett over $300 he was alleged owed for replacing windows at the victim’s home. During the trial in April, Phillips’ friend, who owned the car connected to the murder, testified he drove Phillips to Nibblett’s home to collect the debt.