Right in the middle of a court hearing, a courtroom without Julia Phillips in it to hear what ordinance was being hurled against her, the bombshells fell. Maybe Julia Phillips was happy she was not close by to hear the claims by police and prosecutors that she had been plotting, scheming, conniving, for at least two years, to kill her longtime boyfriend. The person she lived with, who had put her in business and paid her bills.
A policeman told a judge that Julia Phillips asked somebody about killing her boyfriend, Melvin Roberts, a legendary lawyer and former York mayor.
And she asked how to cover it up, giving herself an alibi.
Yet the bombs fell although Phillips was in Gaffney under a bond of house arrest for the February murder in York where she lived with Roberts for almost 10 years. Roberts' two sons were there to listen, and his sister, and others who loved him. They all sat silently, including Dan D'Agostino, Roberts' former law partner, who wiped away tears as he heard the policeman describe how Roberts was hit over the head, then died after a zip tie was pulled tight around his neck.
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Julia Phillips, who claimed on the day of the killing she was a victim, too, that she was taped up by an intruder who changed from black to Hispanic, was not there to hear York Police Department Detective Billy Mumaw testify that just weeks before Roberts was killed, Phillips allegedly had another conversation about what time her friend should claim Julia left somewhere, so that the story would be straight for the cops.
Julia Phillips, indicted just last week for allegedly stealing $2,000 from Roberts' realty company starting the October before his death, was not in court to hear all that.
More bombs kept the Roberts sons shaking their heads. Prosecutors claimed in a bond hearing months ago that Roberts had planned to end the relationship, and had stopped paying Phillips' bills for a business that he owned and set Phillips up in.
But in 2006, police now claim Roberts caught Phillips stealing from him, broke off the dalliance, and wrote her out of his will. But Roberts took her back in 2008, changed the will to include just the Gaffney clothing store building and a car, and nothing more.
Yet police say she stole more and plotted to kill him.
And then, police claim, she killed him.
Phillips heard none of it, but her lawyer again claimed, as he did in the bond hearing months before, that Phillips is a tiny, older woman. She is, Mumaw the cop conceded. Maybe in her 70s, both the lawyer and the policeman said in court, although Phillips told police the day she was arrested she is 66 years old.
Bobby Frederick, the lawyer, said she cooperated with police for weeks after the death until she was arrested in May - even called officers several times with tips that might solve the case.
But police said again Thursday that her claims about the February incident where Roberts died are lies. Being a victim, tied up and left in the rain, are all a hoax.
Since Roberts was found killed outside his home on Feb. 4, police have investigated Phillips, according to testimony Thursday and in previous hearings.
Her re-enactment of the supposed crime didn't add up, they said again on Thursday.
Yet Thursday police and prosecutors finally talked about what so many in York where Roberts practiced law for 55 years, and in Gaffney where he owned property and Phillips was well-known, had been wondering since Roberts was killed: How long had this alleged plot supposedly been going on?
A couple of years, at least, police now say, after Melvin Roberts who despised a thief supposedly caught one living in his own houseand going on trips with him. The same woman he had set up in a store in Gaffney. Roberts even had a trespassing order taken out against Phillips after thefts were uncovered in 2006, according to Thursday's testimony.
But Phillips got back in that house in 2008, and back in the will of Melvin Roberts.
She would again stand to inherit a building.
The same year, police say, she talked about killing him.
Julia Phillips will have her chance to defend herself at a trial if the Judge Derham Cole rules that there is probable cause for police to have arrested her.If there is a trial, she will have to show up and hear all those things about stealing from Roberts while eating dinner at the same table and working in his business, her supposedly talking of murder, and how to cover a murder up, and allegations she did just all of that, for herself.