TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Did Pamela Phillips murder for money or did an angry business partner kill her ex husband Gary Triano? Those are the competing prosecution and defense claims as Phillips trial begins for the car bomb murder of Triano.
A car bomb killed Gary Triano 17 year ago at La Paloma Country. It was powerful enough to send debris all the way to Sunrise Drive. After years of searching for suspects, prosecutors focused on his ex-wife Pamela Phillips and the two million dollar insurance policy she held on Triano’s life.
A man named Ronald Young is already serving a life sentence as the hitman hired for the murder.
But he was a major feature of opening statements.
Prosecutors say a history of communications between Phillips and Young could only be related to the murder. Defense attorneys say there are other ways to explain those contacts, and say they will show business enemies used a bomb on Triano.
Pamela Phillips stood and smiled as the jury came into court to hear attorneys argue her fate.
Prosecutors say she murdered for money, using a car bomb to collect two million dollars in life insurance on her ex-husband’s life.
Prosecutor Nicol Green says as Triano’s businesses crumbled, and they fell into an angry divorce, Phillips was no longer getting enough money from Triano to support a lavish life style.
Phillips shook her head while the prosecutor made this claim about how angry Phillips became.
“At one point in time she made statements to her friends that she could have Gary taken out. She was that frustrated and angry with things going on.”
Prosecutors say they have evidence of a man named Ronald Young pressuring her for payment, in a way that could only be a hitman pushing to collect. Young is already serving a life sentence for planting the bomb, but Phillips defense says Young was never the bomber and was pressuring her about other business deals, not a hit.
Defense attorney Paul Eckerstrom told jurors after years with no one charged, prosecutors took the easy route of trying to pin the crime on an angry ex-wife, instead of tackling the tougher job of building a case against organized crime and people angry about failed financial dealing with Triano.
“There’s people out there that are angry with him and have something to gain, and remember, benefit can be driven by revenge.”