’96 California murder prompts suit against Aspen suspect
November 21, 2007
ASPEN ” The children of an Arizona businessman who was killed in a car bomb 11 years ago have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against his former wife, who now lives in Aspen, and her former boyfriend.
Pamela Phillips, of Aspen, is a key suspect in the pipe bomb murder of Gary Triano, 52. According to court documents, Phillips allegedly paid her partner in crime, former Aspen resident Ronald Young, to plant the bomb that killed her husband.
The Arizona Daily Star reported Tuesday that Triano’s children, Heather Klindworth, 37, and Brian Triano, 36, have filed a wrongful death civil suit in Arizona’s Pima County Superior Court, even though neither Phillips or Young have been charged with a crime in connection with the murder.
Federal agents, Aspen police and Pima County sheriff’s officers raided Phillips’ home in September 2006, carrying away nine computers, disks and other items. Police suspect Phillips wanted to collect on her husband’s $2 million life insurance policy.
Evidence collected during the Aspen raid and a 2005 search on Young’s Florida home reportedly made Triano’s children suspect that Phillips and Young were involved in Triano’s death. A wrongful death suit must be filed within two years of the time plaintiffs become aware of the defendants involvement.
Young was connected to the murder after police in Yorba Linda, Calif., found weapons, a map of Tucson (where Triano was slain), and divorce papers for Triano and Phillips in a car Young rented in Aspen.
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The police affidavit from the search of Phillips’ home details recorded conversations that include threats, blackmail, money drops, a secret romance and evidence of conspiracy in the 1996 slaying.
Detective Jim Gamber of the Pima County (Ariz.) Sheriff’s Department wrote in the affidavit that he believed Young and Phillips were “involved in the bombing death of Gary Triano [and] that Pamela Phillips agreed to pay Ron Young $400,000 over time for his participation.”
Young was apprehended after being featured on “America’s Most Wanted.” He served 18 months in federal prison for possessing firearms while a fugitive and was then extradited to Aspen to face felony fraud charges.
Judge Boyd’s dismissed the felony charges against Young in December of last year after Young had spent two months in the Pitkin County Jail. Boyd said Nichols’ case was based on hearsay and lacking enough hard evidence to go to trial.
Nichols is appealing that decision. The Colorado Court of Appeals has granted numerous extensions and still has not heard oral arguments on the case.
Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is email@example.com.