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Julia Phillips gives up claim to Melvin Roberts' property

Officials say a possible motive for the killing of former York Mayor Melvin Roberts was that his girlfriend was getting written out of Roberts' will.

At the time of his strangulation death Feb. 4, 2010, Roberts' girlfriend of a decade, Julia Phillips, stood to inherit the building which housed her store, Julia's, in Gaffney.

Phillips awaits trial on a murder charge in the longtime lawyer's death. But no matter the outcome, Phillips won't inherit the Limestone Street building. She relinquished her rights to the building and land. Cherokee County records show is valued around $150,000.

This move provides the first real sense of closure to Roberts' sons, David and Ronnie, they said Wednesday.

"David and I are both relieved that this is closing another small chapter in this unfortunate saga that we are living through," Ronnie Roberts said. "We are determined that she (Phillips) will never profit from the murder of our father."

Roberts, 79, was killed outside his York home after being attacked and strangled with a zip-tie. Phillips claimed it was a robbery attempt, although nothing was taken. Through her changing stories, authorities soon suspected her involvement in Roberts' death.

Phillips stood to profit from Roberts' death, police said. He had been bankrolling her consignment store and her lifestyle, but that was in jeopardy as he was leaving her, prosecutors have said in previous hearings.

Roberts' sons cleaned the building Wednesday and prepared it for sale or lease.

"Putting the building on the market will help give us an ability to move on," Ronnie Roberts said.

Interested parties should contact Roberts Realty at 803-684-9966.