College class may help solve Henrico cold case

By Andy Jenks - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Henrico police hope the "ivy league" can help solve a cold case murder. Police got some students from Brown University to take an old blurry video and turn it into something the public may recognize.

One of the last times Harry Phillips junior was seen alive, was here, in what used to be a very grainy surveillance tape, from October of 2005. He's the man wearing a brown coat. Police found him shot to death behind a gas station. But they never found their suspect: the man in the video wearing a black shirt.

Two years went by, and it seemed, the case had gone cold. That is until police contacted Brown University in Rhode Island.

"So we had nothing to lose here and everything to gain, and in this situation we gained a great deal because we have great video now of the suspect," said Henrico Police Lt. Doug Perry.

Students spent two semesters working the image frame by frame, taking what the public saw in 2005, and enhancing it into what police are releasing now. But images like this are said to have limitations in court.

"What this represents is a computer program's speculation as to what the actual image may have been," said NBC12 Legal Analyst Steve Benjamin.

Attorney Steve Benjamin believes the pictures can further an investigation but would likely be inadmissible as evidence.

"It could be missing, for example, some distinguishing facial feature that was not initially captured and that it kinda of glazes over. And that's we would never permit a jury to rely on that as proof of who the perpetrator was," Benjamin said.

Even so, police are still hoping someone recognizes the man in the video. And, that the students at Brown University remain willing to help, in future cases.

"It's very possible, we may have opened a can of worms here for the university!" said Perry.

If you recognized the suspect from the video, call Henrico Police at 501-5000.  

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