Locals ordered to testify in Triano murder trial
ASPEN – A judge signed paperwork Friday requiring two locals to testify in a murder trial with Aspen ties.
Snowmass area residents Susan Hawks and Kevin McDonald are both considered material witnesses for the prosecution in its case against Ronald Young, who pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.
Young’s case goes to a jury trial in March in Tucson, Ariz. It’s anticipated to last six weeks. McDonald is scheduled to testify March 9, Hawks March 18.
Authorities believe one-time Aspen socialite Pamela Phillips paid Young $400,000 to kill Gary Triano so she could collect on a $2 million life insurance policy. Phillips and Triano, who was a real estate investor and developer, divorced in 1993.
Triano was killed when his Lincoln Town Car exploded in the parking lot at the La Paloma Country Club in Tucson on Nov. 1, 1996. He was 52.
Young, 67, was arrested in October 2008 in California. Phillips, 52, was arrested in December in Austria. She has yet to be extradited to the U.S. and remains in the custody of European authorities.
Meanwhile, both Hawks and McDonald appeared Friday in the chambers of 9th Judicial District Judge James Boyd in Aspen. Both told the judge they have bought plane tickets to Tucson for their scheduled testimonies.
Hawks is being called by the prosecution because in 1996, at which time the Aspen Police Department seized one of Phillips’ computers, she worked in the city’s information technology department.
Jim True, special counsel to the city, appeared at Friday’s hearing as a representative for Hawks.
“She has very little recollection of incidents [pertaining to the computer seizure],” he told the judge, adding that Pima County, Ariz., prosecutors “understand [Hawks’ knowledge] is minimal.”
McDonald appeared without an attorney.
Court papers reveal some details about McDonald’s alleged relationship with Phillips.
“[McDonald] provides information and details about the relationship between [Young] and [Phillips] during the period before the commission of the crime,” Arizona authorities wrote. “[McDonald] was living with [Phillips] and knew her practice, business and personal affairs.
“[McDonald] knew of the various personal contacts between [Young] and [Phillips] during the months consistent with the origin of the conspiracy and the preparation of the crime. [McDonald] can also testify about the problems between [Phillips] and [Triano]; this information provides motive and the other testimony provides opportunity.”
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