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Monday, Apr 23, 2018
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Deputies: Sebring man kills uncle, claims to be Jesus Christ

— Although a man was shot first by his uncle, that didn’t make it self defense when he shot his uncle execution style numerous times from behind, according to a warrant affidavit released Tuesday.

Phillip Justin Markland, 30, no street address given, Sebring, who claimed to authorities that he is Jesus Christ, was arrested Monday by the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office and charged with murder.

At the time that the uncle, Thomas Markland, 65, was shot on June 15, he was on the phone seeking medical help, saying he had shot his nephew in self-defense, the affidavit said.

While the uncle was talking, a dispatcher heard someone tell the uncle to “shut your ... mouth,” the affidavit said.

Then the dispatcher heard gunshots, which were followed by a second call from the nephew who said that he was shot and that he fatally shot his uncle, the report said.

“The defendant (the nephew) advised the dispatcher that he shot the victim (his uncle) in the ‘head, chest, everywhere,’” the affidavit said. “The defendant said he ‘unloaded,’ his whole magazine on the victim and then threw his weapon on the couch.”

Despite that Phillip Markland was shot, the report said, the evidence shows he shot his uncle “excessively,” the affidavit said.

While Thomas Markland was talking to the dispatcher, Phillip Markland “went into a bedroom, acquired a rifle and excessively shot and killed the victim. The initial gunshots would have disabled the victim (Thomas Markland), but the fatal gunshots were fired into the victim’s body when he was facing away from the defendant (Phillip Markland). The physical evidence suggest(s) that the victim was shot and killed in an execution-style manner.”

The affidavit said that an autopsy showed that the uncle was shot close to 25 times and that he died as a result of gunshot wounds to the head.

A witness told authorities that events leading up to the incident began when Phillip Markland, who was known to use K-2, a synthetic drug, showed up at a family gathering and “repeatedly stated he was Jesus Christ and soon enough he was going to ‘take everyone home.’” the affidavit said.

The witness reported that the “defendant said he ‘wanted to apologize for what he was going to do next,’ however, ‘could not speak of it now.’”

The witness also told authorities that people at the family gathering were afraid of Phillip Markland.

A second witness also said that Phillip Markland talked about being Jesus Christ and that Thomas Markland appeared to be afraid of his nephew.

At Lakeland Regional Medical Center where Phillip Markland was treated for his wounds, he told a deputy that “... it was impossible for him to die because he is Jesus Christ.”

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