Mental evaluation Julia Phillips Melvin Roberts mayor murder - | WBTV Charlotte

Ex-girlfriend accused of murdering former-mayor to undergo mental evaluation


The ex-girlfriend accused of killing a former South Carolina mayor is expected to undergo a mental evaluation to determine if she can stand trial.

According to the lead prosecutor in the case, Julia Phillips is set to undergo a court-ordered mental evaluation next week. 

Assistant Solicitor Kris Hodge from Greenville County confirmed that Phillips will undergo the test on December 10th.  The results from that test are not expected until after the new year.

Melvin Roberts, 79, was found dead in the driveway behind his home on February 4, 2010. Phillips, his ex-girlfriend, was charged with his murder.

The evaluation comes months after Phillips' lawyer claimed that she is not mentally competent to understand the charges against her.

Prior to his murder, Roberts had been an attorney in York County since 1955. Aside from once serving as the mayor of York, Roberts had both personal and professional dealings with many York County judges.  

He served on York city council in the 1960s and was elected to a 2-year term as mayor in 1972.  Roberts lost a 1976 run for the South Carolina Senate.

To avoid a legal issue, the State Supreme Court appointed a new judge so that Phillips can get a fair trial. Judge Derham Cole, a circuit judge from Spartanburg County, will preside over the case.

Investigators say Phillips was a suspect in Roberts' murder all along, but that recently they developed enough evidence to proceed with a warrant against her.

In her statement on the night of the murder, Phillips told investigators she was bound by duct tape and dragged behind a wall approximately 60 feet away from where Roberts' body was found.  However, investigators found the clothes she was wearing were not wet or dirty, despite the fact that it was raining that night.

Investigators also said her purse was found in an upright position.  It was open and undisturbed, while the victim's wallet was still in his pants pocket and nothing was missing.  That appeared to dispute Phillips' claim that the attack was part of a robbery.

According to the police report, Roberts had a "plastic tie around his neck" and suffered some head trauma.

Phillips consented to have her clothes taken by state investigators for analysis.  They found gun shot residue on her clothes and on the sleeves of her blouse.  Investigators say they means she couldn't have been more the 10-12 feet away from Roberts when he was shot.

An autopsy showed Roberts' was not actually hit by a bullet, but a hole was found in the jacket and collar of his shirt.

Phillips told investigators that her clothes had recently been cleaned and that she hadn't fired a gun in many years.

She has been under house arrest in Gaffney since shortly after her arrest in 2010.

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