Two locals called to testify in murder case
ASPEN – Two local residents could be ordered testify in an Arizona murder trial of a man who was allegedly hired by an Aspen woman to kill her ex-husband.
A Pima County, Ariz., superior court judge signed documents last month requiring Aspen resident Kevin McDonald and Snowmass Village resident Susan Hawks to be material witnesses in the case against Ronald Young, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and first-degree murder.
On Monday, 9th Judicial District prosecutors filed court papers seeking a district judge’s order to have Hawks and McDonald attend a show cause hearing on Feb. 12 in Pitkin County, in which they would both have to demonstrate they will testify at Young’s trial on Feb. 22.
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, Ariz., on Nov. 1, 1996. He was 52.
Young, 68, 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., a Pima County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman said Monday.
Court papers shed some light on Hawks’ and McDonald’s alleged knowledge of the Triano murder case.
“[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.”
Hawk, prosecutors say, knew about the Aspen Police Department’s 1996 seizure of a computer that had information about Young’s relationship with Phillips. While Hawk, a computer consultant, is not believed to have memory about the APD’s examination of the computer, “her protocol assures the record that nothing was done that would corrupt data or prevent a legitimate forensic examination,” Arizona prosecutors said.
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Oral family history provides context that textbooks lack. Tying personal experience to collective events renders them relevant. Most of us have family oral history going back only a few generations, but that spans more history than you might think.