TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The state started making its case Thursday in the trial against Pamela Phillips. She is accused of hiring a hitman to plant a pipe bomb in her ex-husband's car nearly two decades ago.
The prosecution called to the stand the last person to speak with Phillip's ex-husband right before the deadly explosion in the La Paloma country club parking lot.
Businessman Luis Ruben Lopez shared an office with Gary Triano in the months leading up to his shocking death.
"We shared a common interest which is golf and he'd invite me to play golf at La Paloma," Lopez said during his testimony.
The two friends played an afternoon round of golf on the La Paloma course on Friday Nov. 1, 1996.
After a post-game drink at the country club's grill, Lopez said he shook hands with Triano in the parking lot, said goodbye and walked to his car.
"Put the key in the lock of the door, I heard an explosion," Lopez said. "I turned around and saw like a a mushroom cloud, a smoke cloud."
At first Lopez didn't realize the smoke was coming from Triano's borrowed Lincoln Town Car.
"When I got to his car, the top of his car was gone," Lopz said.
What Lopez saw inside the car looked like a war zone corpse.
"I just saw Gary's head slumped over, his right arm and hand was gone," Lopez said. "He was motionless."
Pima County Sheriff's Department and ATF bomb experts who investigated the scene also testified Thursday. More are expected to take the stand when the trial continues Friday morning.
Prosecutors say Phillips was a woman who murdered for money, her ex-husband's $2 million life insurance.
The defense claims someone else, likely a bitter business partner, arranged for the pipe bomb to be planted in Triano's car.