Pamela Phillips Trial Day 13: Witness describes Triano as 'anxious and desperate' day before his death

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Pamela Phillips Trial Day 13: Witness describes Triano as 'anxious and desperate' day before his death

By Cory Marshall. CREATED Mar 12, 2014

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -Stressed, anxious and desperate-- that's how one witness described murdered Tucson businessman, Gary Triano, the day before his death.

Wednesday, during day 13 of the Pamela Phillips trial, one of Triano's high school friends took the stand. Steven Spitzer graduated with Triano and the two reconnected in the 1990's. Spitzer, who was a mortgage broker at the time, told the court Triano met with him and his father the day before he died, asking for a $50,000 loan. Spitzer recalled a very desperate and anxious Triano, something he says, was out character. Prosecutors argued that Triano could have been stressed because he simply did not have any money left.

"He was pushing for the loan, major big time and he was concerned be weren't going to give him the loan and when my father who was in charge of the business said Gary you know we need collateral what is there and he says, 'well, i need the $50,000 tonight and we can take care of it tomorrow.' Tomorrow never happened and the loan never happened," Spitzer said.

Jeffery Morris also took the stand. He requested his face not be shown on camera. Judge Richard Fields granted the request. Morris' testimony was part of the defense trying to prove someone else killed Triano. 

At the time of the bombing,  Morris was serving time in another state for an unrelated crime. Morris told the court he thought, at that time, he still had 5-10 years left in his sentence. In trying to "cut a deal" for himself, he told federal authorities that he knew information in connection with the 1996 bombing.

Morris told prosecutors Wednesday that he did not have any information and was trying to "cut a deal" for himself. In 2012, he signed an affidavit repeating the lie he told federal authorities in 1997. He went on to say ,tainted by his own personal prison experience, he signed the affidavit because the defense's investigator told him an "innocent woman is charged with the crime" and "really needs [Morris'] help."

"He kept telling me about this innocent woman and you know, I'll tell you if I could, even though I've been out of prison for 16 years, done nothing wrong since, expect for the traffic ticket I got two weeks ago, there's still a little something in the back of me that just -- I have a real problem with prison," Morris testified.

"Gene Reedy [the defense's investigator] really told me a story and I thought that I could probably help but yet keep my distance, not help too much, but help a little and just be able to extricate myself with it and go back about my business," Morris continued.

At one point prosecutors bluntly asked Morris if he had anything to do with the murder of Gary Triano. Morris said no.
Before court reconvened following a lunch break, Wednesday, the defense brought their paralegal  and legal secretary to the stand who claimed Det. Keith St. John was shaking his head and nodding during Morris' morning testimony, eluding that Det. St. John was signaling answers to Morris. Det. St. John works for the Pima County Attorney's Office and sits alongside the prosecution during the trial. Morris denied such cues. Judge Fields told the court that while shaking of the head or nodding is human nature it is not appropriate in the courtroom. The motion was dismissed.
The defense also called Marta Ward to testify. In 1996, Ward worked at the Westin La Paloma as a housekeeping supervisor. Ward was not at the country club at the time of the bombing, however, she had worked earlier in the day.
Ward told the defense that she stopped in the parking lot to talk to a co-worker before leaving. Ward also testified that as she was leaving she saw a wine-colored Jaguar in the parking lot. She said that she thought it was unusual that the car was parked in the bike lane on Sunrise because it was "a nice car." Ward says no one was in the car at the time and the car did not appear to have any "problems."  Ward contacted police the day after the bombing, notifying investigators of what she saw. The testimony was part of the defense's continued argument that someone else killed Tucson businessman Gary Triano, continually bringing up witness accounts of "suspicious" or "unusual" cars seen near the La Paloma Country Club parking lot moments before or after the 1996 bombing.
Prosecutors have repeatedly argued that several witnesses to the bombing have given different vehicle descriptions. Prosecutors said Ward did not know why the wine-colored car was parked in the bike lane on Sunrise or how long the car was parked there.

The trial resumes Thursday.