Woman goes on trial in 1996 killing of ex-husband

Posted: Updated:
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- Opening statements are set for Wednesday in the trial of a woman charged with hiring a former boyfriend to kill her ex-husband in 1996 to collect on a $2 million life insurance policy.

Pamela Phillips, 56, is charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the death of Tucson businessman Gary Triano. She has pleaded not guilty.

A jury for Phillips' trial was selected Tuesday.

Authorities say Phillips paid ex-boyfriend Ronald Young $400,000 to carry out the hit by planting a bomb in Triano's car.

Phillips was arrested in Austria in 2009 while living a lavish lifestyle from the insurance payout. Her case was delayed while authorities worked to restore her competency to stand trial.

Young was convicted in 2010 and sentenced to two life terms in prison.

After her split from Triano, Phillips moved to Aspen, Colo., where she lived for several years before authorities say she moved to Switzerland. By the time they had issued arrest warrants for Phillips and Young, her trail had gone cold.

Austrian police arrested her in 2009 at an upscale Vienna hotel. She was later extradited to Tucson, where she has remained jailed pending her trial.

Triano was a real estate broker and developer who made millions investing in Indian bingo halls and slot-machine parlors in Arizona and California before Congress authorized tribes to open full-blown casinos. He hosted Donald Trump at a University of Arizona football game, rode in luxury cars, gave money to charities and briefly ran for the City Council.

After the real estate market declined and he lost control of his gambling interests, Triano went broke. In 1994 bankruptcy filings, he listed assets of $1.3 million and debts of nearly $26.8 million.

He died Nov. 1, 1996, when his borrowed Lincoln Town Car exploded as he was leaving a Tucson-area country club.

Triano and Phillips, who had two children together, were married for seven years and divorced in 1993, but she remained the beneficiary of his life insurance policy.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.