So I decided to write a letter to Joshua Phillips. I’m not sure how many of you actually heard of him or his crime. Well, back in 1998 when Joshua was 14 he bludgeoned his 8 year old neighbor/friend to death out of fear of his father finding out he didn’t follow his rule of not playing outside nor have company while he was out. Joshua was sentenced to life in prison. Now, I know you may be thinking why in the world would I want to write him, right? By now you may have looked up the full details of what happened and think he’s a “monster” like most called him during the time of the trial. Please keep in mind that he was just a kid and terrified of his dad. Josh is 28 now and I just believe everyone deserves a second chance. I’m not saying I believe he should be released soon, but at least someday.
His mother encourages people to write him, and I really want to.
Look at Cody Posey, Alex & Derek King, Robert Thompson & Jon Venables. They were all given second chances after killing at young ages. I’m not in any way saying murder is acceptable, but you can’t change your past. Especially from something you did as a kid. And at least Josh showed remorse, unlike some.
Well, if anyone else would like to write to him he’s in Hardee Correctional Institution. The address will come up on the site. Joshua’s DC# is J11775.
Sheila Clifton protests Josh Phillips's re-sentencing
Sheila Clifton-Delongis stood with others holding candles, remembering the young loved ones they lost to crime in Jacksonville.
She prayed with them. She hugged them. She shared in their pain.
But following the 17th Annual Unity Plaza Candlelight Vigil and Remembrances on Monday evening at Terry Parker High School, the mother of the city’s most notable young murder victim, 8-year-old Maddie Clifton, spoke with anger and revelation.
“It’s time the people of Jacksonville know the whole story — what went on in my neighborhood before he killed my daughter,” Clifton-Delongis said.
“He” is Joshua Phillips, who was convicted in Clifton’s November 1998 slaying. Phillips, 28, was 14 at the time of the murder but was convicted as an adult and sentenced in August 1999 to mandatory life in prison.
But a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling likely will change that. In June, the court declared it unconstitutional to sentence juveniles to mandatory life terms for murder charges.
What started as a regular room cleaning ended with the conviction of a 14-year-old boy named Joshua Phillips. His mother went to clean up his room one morning after Phillips left for school. Mrs. Phillips noticed a wet spot under her son’s bed and thought it was a leak from his waterbed. As she was investigating the bed to see if it needed to be drained, she found electrical tape holding the frame together. She thought her son had known the about leak but didn’t want to get into trouble. She removed enough tape to discover her son’s sock underneath, but she was surprised to feel something cold. The beam of her flashlight showed her the dead body of Maddie Clifton, an 8-year-old neighbor who had been missing for seven days.
People in the community, especially the boy’s parents, could hardly believe he could have killed Clifton. Phillips was one of the neighbors who had volunteered to search for the missing girl. Because he was under 16, Phillips did not qualify for the death penalty. He was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment, with no possibility of being freed. To this day, Phillips has not stated his motives for killing Clifton. He said he accidentally hit her in the eye with a baseball bat, and then dragged her to his room where he hit and stabbed her, but the jury did not believe his story.