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Seized property staying put

Joel StoningtonAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN District Judge James Boyd has denied a request by murder suspect Pamela Phillips to return property she claimed was illegally seized. Federal agents, Aspen police and Pima County (Ariz.) Sheriff’s officers raided Phillips’ home in September, carrying away nine computers, disks and other items. Phillips, 49, is a key suspect in the pipe-bomb slaying of her ex-husband, Gary Triano. At issue is whether or not the Pitkin County search warrant legally allowed Aspen police to immediately hand over the evidence to authorities with Pima County, where the goods were taken. Phillips’ high-profile Denver lawyers, Pamela Mackey and Joseph St. Veltri, argued that authorities had no right to take Phillips’ property for five months and that the transfer of property to Arizona made the search warrant invalid. Though Pitkin County prosecutor Gail Nichols called the motion by Phillips’ legal team “ridiculous,” Judge Boyd took the legal challenge by the defense more seriously and issued a three-page ruling that admitted police mistakes. Boyd notes that APD executed the warrant and delivered the seized property to officers of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. Boyd states in his ruling that APD failed a provision of the warrant by giving the property to Pima County.”A police mistake did occur here,” Boyd wrote. “The warrant commanded the searching and seizing agency to ‘keep’ the seized property.”The mistake was not serious enough to make the warrant void, nor a big enough mistake to force a return of the property, Boyd ruled. Phillips’ alleged partner in crime, former Aspen resident Ronald 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. Boyd ruled that Nichols’ case relied too heavily on hearsay, and Young was released after the preliminary hearing. Pima County detectives believe Young placed the pipe bomb that blew up Triano. Police believe Phillips hired Young to kill her ex-husband so she could cash in on Triano’s $2 million life insurance. Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is jstonington@aspentimes.com


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