Prosecutors say murdered York mayor's girlfriend played role in death

Prosecutors say murdered York mayor's girlfriend played role in death

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by RICHARD DEVAYNE / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @richardwcnc

WCNC.com

Posted on August 27, 2013 at 5:46 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 27 at 6:00 PM

YORK COUNTY, S.C. -- Opening statements began Tuesday in the Julia Phillips murder trial. The Gaffney woman is accused of playing a part in the death of her longtime boyfriend, Melvin Roberts.

Roberts was strangled and found lying in his driveway on February 4, 2010. Phillips was inside a car with duct tape around her ankle and her neck after she told police she pulled it away.

It was Phillips who called police, saying that they had been robbed by a black man, that she heard gunshots and didn't know where her husband was.

The York County Solicitor Kris Hodge told jurors Tuesday that Phillips played a part in Roberts’ death because she feared that the 79-year-old businessman and former York mayor was about to end their relationship and cut off Phillips financially.

The state also told jurors that while Phillips did not kill Roberts with her hands, she was the reason he died.

Phillips’ defense said that the state is asking them to convict primarily based on circumstantial evidence, especially since police are still looking for the murderer three years later.

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