TUCSON - Nearly two decades after an Arizona real estate executive was killed in a car bombing in Tucson, his ex-wife is going to trial for murder.
Opening statements were set for Wednesday in the trial of Pamela Phillips, who is charged with hiring a former boyfriend to kill her ex-husband in 1996 so she could collect on a $2 million life insurance policy.
Phillips, 56, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the death of Tucson businessman Gary Triano.
Phillips was arrested in Austria in 2009 while living a lavish lifestyle from the insurance payout. She was later extradited to Tucson, where she has remained jailed. Her case was delayed while authorities worked to restore her competency to stand trial.
Authorities say Phillips paid ex-boyfriend Ronald Young $400,000 to carry out the hit by planting a bomb in Triano's car.
Young was convicted in 2010 and sentenced to two life terms in prison.
Triano was a real estate broker and developer who made millions investing in Indian bingo halls and slot-machine parlors in Arizona and California before Congress authorized tribes to open full-blown casinos. He hosted Donald Trump at a University of Arizona football game, rode in luxury cars, gave money to charities and briefly ran for City Council.
After the real estate market declined and he lost control of his gambling interests, Triano went broke. In 1994 bankruptcy filings, he listed assets of $1.3 million and debts of nearly $26.8 million.
He died Nov. 1, 1996, when his borrowed Lincoln Town Car exploded as he was leaving a Tucson-area country club.
Triano and Phillips, who had two children together, were married for seven years and divorced in 1993, but she remained the beneficiary of his life insurance policy.