Former boyfriend of murderer’s daughter convicted for role in escape from dispute with man at lover’s home


Clifford Wood, III.

LOUISA COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Sean Houchens was killed on Sept. 1, 2017 and now years later the fifth and final person has been convicted in connection to his murder. On Friday, the Louisa County Commonwealth’s Attorney said Stephen Phillips has been convicted as an accessory after the fact to Houchen’s murder.

As for the convicted murderer, that would be Clifford “Peter” Wood, III. Phillips was dating Wood’s daughter at the time and was with him, another daughter’s boyfriend and Wood’s son Brandon when he Wood fired four shots at Houchen.

At the time of his death, Houchen was at the home of a woman that the commonwealth’s attorney describes as Wood’s mistress. The court determined that Wood was angry with his mistress and was sending her threatening messages about men at her home. Shortly before 2 a.m. he arrived at her residence with the three younger men.

There, Wood confronted Houchen and shot him, killing him. Wood, Philllips and the two other men fled from the scene. Wood disposed of his phone and .45 caliber Glock pistol in a Hanover County field and left his car at a hotel in Doswell.

Wood’s wife, Wendy Wood, helped him and the others escape to Tennessee. There, all five people eluded arrest for 10 days. Everyone who accompanied Wood to the crime was charged and convicted as accessories after the fact for helping with his escape. His wife was also convicted for helping him escape to Tennessee.

According to release, the court said that Phillips, Brandon Wood and the other daughter’s boyfriend, Justin Peters, were not accused of knowing that Wood planned to kill Houchens.

“We are glad that Sean Houchens family now has closure as every person that assisted Clifford Wood, either before, during, or after the murder, has been held accountable.  Most of Clifford Wood’s family are now felons,” said Louisa Commonwealth’s Attorney Rusty McGuire. “That fact will not bring Sean back, but we hope it sends the message that all individuals involved in violent crimes, whether they commit them or assist the perpetrator, will be held accountable.”

Phillips was convicted years later than other defendants like Wood and his wide due to delays caused by the pandemic.

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