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Jurors deliberate in attempted murder trial

BY MICHELLE MCCONNAUGHEY | APRIL 14, 2011 7:20 AM

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After four hours of deliberation, jurors had not decided whether Gregory Phillips meant to kill his landlord when he walked into the office with a loaded gun.

Phillips, 57, is charged with attempted murder and going armed with intent. He allegedly threatened to kill Mezher Beig, his landlord, at Dolphin Lake Enclave Apartments on Sept. 4, 2008.

The jury began deliberating around noon on Wednesday.

Prosecuting attorney Anne Lahey said it wasn’t unusual for deliberations in an attempted murder trial to take this long, and she noted that it’s impossible to tell if extended deliberations benefit either side.

Wednesday was the third day of the trial, and it began with closing arguments from the prosecution.
During her closing argument, Lahey told the jury Phillips meant to kill Beig when he walked into his office.

“The defendant was armed, pulled the gun on Mezher Beig, and pulled the trigger,” Lahey said.
Lahey brought up Phillips’ admission during his testimony that he had consumed 16 to 18 beers on Sept. 4, 2008.

Though the defense tried to explain his actions, the explanations don’t justify what he did, Lahey said.

Lahey then continued to talk about the terror Phillips caused Beig.

“He felt as though his head could be blown off,” Lahey said. “Mr. Beig struggled for 15 minutes because he knew his life depended on it.”

Victoria Cole, Phillips’ attorney, started the defense’s closing statements by saying simply, “This case is simply an empty threat.”

Cole noted that though Phillips entered the office with nine rounds in the weapon, there was never a round in the chamber, and he never fired a shot.

Though Beig said he heard the click of a trigger being pulled, Cole reminded the jury there are numerous things on a gun that can make a similar noise.

“When someone points a gun at you, and you hear a click, it doesn’t matter how many buttons on it make a noise, you will always assume it was the trigger,” Cole said.

Cole said if Phillips wanted to kill Beig, he would have. Beig is alive because Phillips didn’t enter the office intending to kill him, Cole said.

“If you want to take someone out of this world, you don’t give them a chance to talk,” Cole said.

On Monday, Beig testified that Phillips stuck a gun to his mouth, told him he was going to kill him, and pulled the trigger without a shot being fired.

During Phillips’ testimony Tuesday, he said he never told Beig he was going to kill him, and he only went to Beig’s office to threaten him.

“If I say something, I’m going to do it,” Phillips said.

Between the closing arguments of the defense and prosecution, Phillips stood talking to a member of the audience.

“After 31 months, something’s got to give,” he said.

The jury will continue deliberation at 8:30 a.m. today in the Johnson County Courthouse.

Attempted murder is a Class B felony, punishable by up to 25 years in prison. Going armed with intent is a Class D felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $7,500 fine.


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