TUCSON(KGUN9-TV) - Week four of the Pamela Phillips trial came to a close, Friday, as the defense puts the blame on Tucson billionaire, Neil McNeice.
The son of a Wyoming uranium prospector, Phillips' attorney's say Neil McNeice, who died several years ago, had the means and the motive to kill Tucson businessman Gary Triano back in 1996.
Friday, Dr. Lawrence Patrick D'Antonio took the stand. D'Antonio was hired by McNeice's mother to essentially act as a custodian, watching over him, during portions of McNeice's adult life. D'Antonio went on to give a full narrative of his history with McNeice, detailing the late billionaire's apparent drug use and referring to McNeice as not only "eccentric" but "crazy."
Strangely, the only picture the defense of Neil McNeice is a picture of McNeice after he died The postmortem picture was shown by the defense as evidence during testimony.
"Yes, but I wouldn't describe Neil as a friend. You called him a friend. I had a lot of trouble liking him," D'Antonio told Phillips' attorney during testimony.
He later said, "He was a saint. He was a wonderful guy and I miss him very much," referring to McNeice when he was not on drugs, contradicting his earlier testimony.
The testimony painted McNeice as an amoral billionaire with access to anything including; military weapons, dynamite and the ability to make a pipe bomb. D'Antonio also said McNeice had a "very bad opinion of Gary Triano." He talked about a "ring deal" where McNeice gave Triano $80,000 dollars in exchange for Phillips' wedding ring. The ring turned out to be a fake. This was part of the defense's effort to show Neil McNeice had the resources and motive to kill Triano or, at least, conspire to kill him.
"He was screaming and yelling that he was going to kill Gary Triano over this ring deal. He was very, very angry," D'Antonio said.
"Neil was an angry individual who would not use reason. He would pick people to hate and would vilify them and go after them with a passion and he was a scary individual," D'Antonio said, describing McNeice.
D'Antonio says McNeice kept a ledger of the people who owed him money. He had several people on a "kill list" which included Gary Triano and the lead singer of the band, Motley Crue, Vince Neil. A man named Terry White, McNeil's brother-in-law, was also on the list.
"He had a kill list. It was called kill list. Number one was Gary Triano, number two was Tom Billick, number three was Vince Neil and the other people I don't know who they were," D'Antonio later testified.
"His craziness -- I can't tell you why he picked people but most of the people he picked to hate owed him money," D'Antonio told the court.
Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Ryan Burke also testified during day 15 of the Pamela Phillips murder-for-hire trial, as part of his continued testimony. Agent Burke has worked for the FBI for 25 years and was based in Tucson from 1995-1997. He interviewed former convict, Jefferey Morris
, who testified Wednesday as part of the defense's work to prove someone else entirely killed Triano.
Morris previously told prosecutors that he lied to federal agents in 1997, telling Agent Burke he knew information about Triano's murder, in an attempt to "cut a deal" for himself in connection with a completely separate case. He admitted to repeating the lie again in 2012, signing an affidavit after the defense's lead investigator, Gene Reedy, told him an "innocent woman is charged with the crime" and "really needs [Morris
'] help." Agent Burke told the court Friday they did not find [Morris'] story credible.
The trial resumes Monday.