Attorneys expect the woman accused of killing York's former mayor and attorney, Melvin Roberts, to get a little more freedom.
In a motion filed earlier this month, the attorney for 67-year-old Julia Phillips asked for her bond to be modified to allow her to leave Cherokee County to attend doctors' appointments in Spartanburg.
Phillips faces a murder charge in the Feb. 4, 2010, strangulation death and beating of Roberts. She has been confined to her house in Gaffney on electronic monitoring since she posted $75,000 bond in June.
Bond restrictions set by Judge Derham Cole do not allow her to leave the county she lives in except for court appearances.
Never miss a local story.
Police found Roberts, 79, strangled to death outside his residence.
Nearby, his girlfriend of 10 years, Phillips, claimed she had been tied up and robbed.
A hearing about this motion and a few others was scheduled for Thursday afternoon. Instead, Phillips' attorney Bobby Frederick and 13th Circuit Assistant Solicitor Kris Hodge met with Cole in the judge's chambers.
In that meeting, Hodge said they discussed how Frederick's request to modify bond restrictions was vague.
She wouldn't oppose the change if a more specific request is made. She said she expects Cole to make a modification for the limited purpose to allow Phillips to attend those doctors' appointments.
Hodge also expects Cole to order the State Law Enforcement Division to comply with another motion to turn over DNA evidence results that Frederick asked for. She said that evidence is still being evaluated so it's not appropriate for its release at this time.
She expects that information, which falls under evidence that would normally be disclosed before trial, will be made available after SLED completes its processing. Cole hasn't issued any written rulings on these motions.
Phillips was arrested three months after Roberts was found dead outside his house. York police and SLED agents built a case against Phillips through her changing stories and other evidence.
Prosecutors have said they don't believe Phillips acted alone, but no other suspect has been identified publically or charged.
Roberts reportedly was leaving Phillips, who had been stealing from him, officials say. Roberts financially supported her, funding her consignment store in Gaffney, housed in a building she stood to inherit in his will.
Money is a possible motive for killing Roberts, authorities say, after he threatened to end the relationship and stopped bankrolling Phillips' business and covering her personal debts.
Prosecutors say she talked about having Roberts killed as early as two years before his beating and death.
Her arrest in the Roberts case also prompted the Cherokee County coroner to exhume the body of Phillips' deceased husband, Edward Bryant Phillips. Bryant Phillips died shortly before Julia Phillips and Roberts started dating. Autopsy results have not been released.
One of the motions supposed to have been considered Thursday was to compel the release of those autopsy results. But that motion has been withdrawn.
Phillips is under indictment in Cherokee County on allegations that she stole rent money from Roberts' realty company, but police said in court Roberts discovered Phillips was stealing from him in 2006 when he went to use a bank card and his account was empty.
At that time, the pair broke up, and she was written out of his will, where she stood to inherit "a good bit of money," according to the indictment.
Trespass papers were served on her during that time. The couple reconciled, and Phillips was added back in the will.
The next step is to take the case against Phillips to a grand jury for possible indictment.
Cole ruled that there was probable cause for the case to proceed to the grand jury in December.
Hodge, who has been assigned to prosecute the case after Phillips' attorney asked 16th Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett to step aside because he knew Roberts well, said she expects to present the case to the grand jury in the next 60 to 90 days.