Pastor, girlfriend’s stepfather take stand in Staup, Bridges sentencing trial

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Edwin King, Brenden Bridges’ attorney, held the courtroom for the short day June 11 calling up witnesses to testify on Bridges’ character and experiences.

William Phillips, connections pastor at the First Baptist Church in Wylie and former Navy Seal, spoke about his interactions with Bridges throughout his childhood and beyond. However, he’s come to know Bridges more closely throughout his detainment.

“I’ve visited regularly. I believe he knows the Lord and he understands there’s consequences to what he’s been a part of,” Phillips said. “I asked him what he would tell these kids [whom I council] and he said listen to your parents, keep God’s word and no matter how badly you want to do something the consequences are not worth it.”

Phillips teaches Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at the church. Bridges showed up to three or four of these classes before the homicide, not mixed martial arts like previously thought.

“He attended classes for like one month,” Phillips said. “He didn’t know nothing about Jiu Jitsu.”

I’ve visited regularly. I believe he knows the Lord and he understands there’s consequences to what he’s been a part of.”

— William Phillips, Pastor

Collin Armstrong, the stepfather of Ivan Mejia’s girlfriend also took the stand, shedding new light on the relationship between his stepdaughter, Mejia and Bridges.

Armstrong and his wife did not approve of the relationship between their daughter and Mejia who as about three years older than her in school. They took up her phone and computer on multiple occasions to stop any connection to Mejia, but continued to find evidence of further communication.

“The coaches and ROTC instructors told her to stop seeing him,” Armstrong said. “My concern was focused on my daughter.”

In one passing comment he did ask Bridges to keep his stepdaughter away from Mejia, but did not allude to any violence and they did not sit down and discuss it. He assured the courtroom that it was only a passing comment and nothing more.

“Absolutely [my stepdaughter] has been traumatized by this,” he said. “She’s had counseling and continues to be active in school.”

Due to scheduling conflicts the court rested before noon. Judge Mark Rusch told the gallery, attorneys and defendants to be, “intellectually and emotionally ready to wrap this up by tomorrow.”

Read previous stories in this series:

Psychologist believes Staup, Bridges can be rehabilitated

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