Jury sees video of Julia Phillips re-enacting crime - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Jury sees video of Julia Phillips re-enacting crime

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Once again Julia Phillips was the star of her murder trial - but not from the witness chair.

Jurors watched a video of Phillips re-enacting her alleged attack, and the events surrounding the murder of her long time boyfriend, Melvin Roberts.

At times she cried. Other moments she declared her love for Roberts - saying and "she would lay down her life for him."

Roberts, a popular attorney and one mayor of York, was found dead in his driveway in February 2010.

Phillips says an unknown robber attacked her, bound her with duct tape, then beat and killed Roberts. Police say there was a gunshot hole in the collar of Roberts' shirt, and fragments near his body.

But investigators say Phillips worked with an accomplice to strangle Roberts with a zip tie.

Prosecutors say greed is the motive because Roberts had stopped supporting Phillips financially.

Friday morning during Day 5 of the murder trial, Assistant Solicitor Kris Hodge, who is prosecuting the case, showed the jury a video York Police investigators taped of Phillips re-enacting the alleged attack with police.

The video showed Phillips as she parked her SUV in Roberts' driveway. She said she took her house keys out of her bag, put the bag under her arm, and left her groceries and cell phone in the vehicle because it was raining. She wanted to open the door to the house first.

Phillips demonstrated to detectives, how, as she stepped out of the vehicle and closed the door, a man came behind her, put his hand over her mouth, threw a cloth or hood over her head.

Phillips showed police how the man bound her with duct tape, grabbed her hair, dragged her from her vehicle and took her behind a wall where she said he shoved her to the ground.

On the video, Phillips went down on her knees and put her face in the dirt. She said her face was in "a whole thing of mud."

At this point in the re-enactment video, Phillips could be heard sobbing.

She showed police how the man grabbed her hair pulled her up and put her in the fetal position.

Again, she made sounds of what seemed like she was crying. 

Phillips told investigators she then heard a truck and "wanted to scream but I can't."

At one point she said the man told her to shut up.

Phillips said she then heard a struggle and the sound of a pipe hitting concrete, and then a gunshot.

On the video, Phillips told investigators she said to herself, "if I don't do something, I'm gonna die." She said that's when she remembered she had her house key, and little by little she began to loosen the duct tape.

Phillips showed police how she pushed herself up on her elbow and "walked, crawled, dragged herself back to the SUV."

She said as she was walking she "saw Melvin's body."

Phillips said she "opened her vehicle's door, got in, got her cell phone, locked the door and called 9-1-1."

Phillips said when she called 9-1-1 she told the operator "please don't hang up. Please don't hang up. Everything I'm about to tell you is the truth."

Phillips then told investigators "I want you to catch this man. I loved Melvin Roberts. I would lay down my life for Melvin. He helped me through so much."

After the first re-enactment, Phillips told police she forgot to tell them that "when I got out of the vehicle I asked why are you doing this?" She said the man responded "money money."

During questioning on the witness stand, York Police Detective William Mumaw told jurors "not once" did he see tears when Phillips appeared to be crying during the re-enactment.

He testified that "once in a while she mentioned Melvin. But it was always about her birthday or someone coming to help her."

According to Detective Mumaw, Phillips "never went over to check on Melvin."

He told the jury there was a lack of duct tape to support Phillips' story of being bound tightly. He said the duct tape was put on "with a care so not to hurt her."

Detective Mumaw said Phillips was clear about certain facts "but when it got to the suspect - she was all over the place." Detective Mumaw testified Phillips was "very particular on things that don't matter."

He said police didn't find any extra ball of duct tape, discarded tape or empty rolls. Detective Mumaw testified there were 10 pieces of tape on Phillips' feet, hand and head.

According to Detective Mumaw, no extra zip ties, guns, knives, scissors or anything with a sharp instrument to cut tape was found at the crime scene.

During cross examination, defense attorney Bobby Frederick asked Detective Mumaw if DNA was found on the zip tie that was used to strangle Roberts. Mumaw said technicians found DNA on the zip tie, and the duct tape that was on Phillips. But he says investigators have not been able to identify whose DNA it is.  

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