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Girlfriend charged in slaying of former York mayor

May 19, 2010 8:26:00 AM - thestate.com

From the moment police set foot on the crime scene where prominent attorney and former York Mayor Melvin Roberts was murdered, they believed his longtime girlfriend was involved.

Julia Brice Phillips, 66, of Gaffney changed her story about the events that transpired outside Roberts’ expansive home Feb. 4, but none of it matched the evidence, said York Police Chief Bill Mobley. And after the forensics evidence surfaced, Mobley said that’s when a warrant for Phillips for murder was drafted.

“Her statement of events differed from scientific evidence that has been gathered through this investigation,” Mobley said. “DNA and forensic evidence gave us probable cause she had committed the crime of murder under South Carolina law.”

Roberts, 79, died from asphyxiation due to strangulation, York County Coroner Sabrina Gast said. He was strangled, possibly by the plastic tie the police report noted was around his neck, had a blow to the head and a gunshot hole in the collar of his shirt.