YORK — Prosecutors are expected to call the murder trial today against Julia Phillips, the longtime girlfriend of former York Mayor Melvin Roberts.
Roberts, 79, who practiced law in York County for 55 years, was strangled in the driveway of his York home in February 2010. Phillips, who lived with Roberts for about 10 years, was arrested and charged with murder in May 2010.
The case is scheduled for trial this week, according to court officials, and pre-trial motions could start as early as this morning.
Phillips – who is either 68 or 72, according to conflicting court documents – told police the day of the killing that she had been bound and robbed on the day of the killing.
Detectives at the time of her arrest said her story was a hoax, citing gunshot residue on her clothes despite telling authorities she had not fired a weapon in weeks.
Phillips also claimed to have been attacked outdoors by an unidentified black or Hispanic man, yet police said her clothes were not wet and no money was missing.
Prosecutors later said Phillips’ motive for the crime was money, as Roberts had planned to end the relationship and all financial support for Phillips and her clothing business in Gaffney.
Phillips already has pleaded guilty to another felony charge of stealing $2,000 in rent money from Roberts’ realty company around the same time as the killing.
Investigators also have stated that police do not believe Phillips worked alone in the killing, but no one else has been charged.
Phillips has said since her arrest that she did not kill Roberts, and her lawyer has said she was too small and too frail to have done it. She has been held on house arrest bond since shortly after her arrest.
Because area judges and prosecutors knew Roberts, prosecutors from Greenville and a judge from Spartanburg are handling the trial.
Watch for updates throughout the trial at heraldonline.com and via Twitter and Facebook.