PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – The jury in the case of a man accused of murdering his girlfriend read the verdict on Tuesday morning.
Jurors found Robert Interval not guilty of first-degree murder, but guilty of second-degree murder.
The trial of Robert Interval began in late February. He’s accused of killing Christine Mustafa, a Phoenix mother who disappeared in May of 2017.
Mustafa was last seen leaving her job at a Phoenix Walgreens on May 10, 2017. Police say she spoke with her sister on the phone that day. That call was the last time anybody heard from her. Mustafa did not show up for work the next day.
Mustafa’s family asked the police to check on her on May 11. Interval, who arrived at the home while officers were there, reportedly told them Mustafa had walked to work that morning.
Police served a search warrant on Mustafa’s home nearly a week later. They found her car, her wallet and her cellphone.
“You don’t just leave your 8-month-old baby, your car, your keys, your phone. You just don't do that,” Mustafa’s friend, Diane Stand, said on the first anniversary of the 34-year-old Phoenix mother’s disappearance.
Police arrested Interval in June 2017 in connection with Mustafa’s presumed death and booked him on suspicion of first-degree murder.
Despite an exhaustive search, including a three-month operation at a landfill near Buckeye, her body has not been found.
Even without a body, prosecutors believed they have enough evidence to convict Interval.
Defense attorneys were similarly confident.
Mustafa and Interval had a daughter together. She also had another daughter from a previous marriage.
Interval reportedly told one of Mustafa’s siblings that they were splitting up, which they had done several times in the past.
A recording of that conversation was played for the jury.
“If we were in a good relationship, I would be very concerned right now. But I already know she's started a new relationship with somebody else,” Interval said in the recording.
He said he did not have proof of that but was sure of it nonetheless.
"She'll come home; she always does,” he said on the recording.
But she didn’t.
The case was wrapped up and handed to the jury on Wednesday, April 10. They began their deliberations Thursday, April 11, and told the judge they had a decision on Monday, April 15.