Accessory to Murder


Julia Phillips died in prison in 2016, after having been convicted in 2013 of being an accessory to murder in the 2010 death of Melvin Roberts.

Roberts, 79 at the time of his death, was a lawyer in the small town of York, South Carolina. He had also been the mayor at one time.

No mention was made of his net worth on the ID TV show about the murder.  The program did say that he had several rental properties and owned a used car lot.

In February, 2010, the murderer accosted Roberts and Phillips outside Roberts’  home, shot Roberts and finally strangled him.

Phillips was tied up with duct tape, which police said was not tight enough to denote the person who tied her up was serious about restraining her.

Then when police questioned Phillips at police headquarters, the police said her story did not match what happened

When her picture was taken, she asked police if her picture would be used for “Playboy”.  That statement seemed quite inappropriate to the police, as it would seem to any person interviewed who was walking down the street.

Roberts and Phillips had a relationship for a long time.  She moved in with him, and at some time, the relationship became sexual, as Julia revealed in one of the police interviews. She said he was active sexually.

At the age of 79, some men who have a few years left before they reach that age, will be glad to hear that news.

Phillips always denied she had any involvement until the very end. Whether that speaks to whether or not she thought she would go to Hell if she didn’t confess before she died, that is a moot point now, because she  offered nothing before her death.

The man who actually committed the murder has never been caught.

According to a neighbor who encountered him and lived to tell about it,  he spoke in a foreign dialect, and threatened to kill her if she talked to the police.

According to ID TV Roberts was ending the relationship with Phillips, and in fact had booked a cruise with another woman.

That was motive enough for the police to focus on Phillips as being a participant in the murder. You might have thought the DA would have gone for conspiracy to commit murder, a more obnoxious charge than accessory to murder, but the DA didn‘t, for whatever reason.

Phillips had no money of her own, and at that time was a drug addict as well.  Traveling the dark streets of buying drugs, she should have had contact with any number of people who would have been glad to kill Roberts for the money to buy drugs for a few more fixes.

Roberts had set her up in business in a building he owned in downtown York, and if that business ever thrived, there seemed to be no evidence of it.

According to the coroner, Phillips died of natural causes, possibly related to heart problems. Her one time affluent lifestyle had gone to the low end of the spectrum in prison.

I’m not sure why any people assume they can get away with murder.

Oh, she thought she was being clever.  For her birthday which was on the same night that Roberts was murdered, she had some Victoria Secret’s seductive attire lined up for Roberts, which she knew would never be used. The fact the attire existed must have made her think she would never be convicted for anything because no one plans to have anyone murdered on the night they have those sexual plans before them.

Julia Phillips’ possessions in prison might have been a point of interest at the time of her death.  I don’t think the York police could have come into the prison while she was alive to search her cell, unless they were able to convince a judge that she had written a confession which contained the name of the murderer.  Because they had no idea what she may have written, the judge in all probability would have told them that was pure speculation and not probable cause, and not allowed them to search her belongings in the penitentiary.

There was another possibility. When Phillips was not in her cell, but her cellmate was, she could have rummaged through Phillips’ belongings.  If the cellmate found a  confession which named the murderer, and taken it to prison officials with the hope of shortening her sentence, the prison officials would have had to decline, because the evidence was obtained illegally by her cellmate.

When Phillips died the whole scenario changed, because a dead person has no legal rights. Even if a person has specified they want to have their body cremated, it is their close relatives who have to agree the cremation can take place, not the dead person.

Phillips’ possessions or belongings, whichever you choose to call them, upon her death, then became the property of the state because they had no legal owner, and they could have searched them as much as they liked.

That would have occurred in 2016.  Apparently no revelations were in her belongings, and the murderer still awaits the discovery of who he is.

Murder knows no age limit. These were two older people, Melvin Roberts and Julia Phillips. Either one of them could have died at any time, but that was not satisfactory with Phillips, because she wanted to hasten Roberts’ death, thinking his will would at least give her some kind of existence.

About the only thing noteworthy to come out of all of this beyond York, South Carolina, and the surrounding territory that might have known either or both of them is that Julia Phillips was either the oldest or one of the oldest women to die in prison.

That might not be quite the legacy she expected, but that’s the one she got.

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