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Deposition ordered in Triano bombing lawsuit

An ex-wife accused of ordering his death in 1996 car bombing

Gary Triano’s second ex-wife, who is accused in a lawsuit of ordering his 1996 car-bombing death, must talk soon to attorneys representing her former stepchildren.

Pima County Superior Court Judge Michael Miller on Monday denied Pamela Phillips’ request to delay her deposition until her attorneys have seen boxes of evidence seized from her and Ronald Young, Phillips’ friend who is also accused in the 2007 wrongful death lawsuit.

Triano, 52, was killed Nov. 1, 1996, after he finished a round of golf at La Paloma Country Club, 3800 E. Sunrise Drive.

Phillips’ attorney, Dwight Whitley Jr., asked Miller to delay the deposition for 90 days, so attorneys can review the evidence, which is being sent to them.

The evidence includes e-mails exchanged between Phillips and Young, electronic notes on Young’s computer hard drive and documents seized from both defendants’ homes.

“(Phillips) has collected $1 million from an insurance policy,” said attorney Bill Walker, who represents Triano’s youngest daughter, Malissa Elliott Gardner. The girl was born several months before his death.

The lawsuit asks Phillips to hand over the insurance money if she’s found liable for Triano’s death, Walker noted. Delaying the deposition by 90 days might jeopardize a hand-over, he said.

Whitley noted that Phillips got the insurance settlement in 1997 and said the delay wouldn’t hurt the children.

“They’ve filed a lawsuit based on hearsay,” Whitley said.

Triano’s children are trying to force Phillips into a situation where she would have to invoke her Fifth Amendment right against incriminating herself so they can draw bad assumptions, Whitley said.

Miller ordered the deposition to be taken within 30 days and said he likely wouldn’t allow another deposition after the evidence is revealed.

An investigation into whether any criminal charges will be filed in Triano’s death continues.

According to an affidavit filed in a Colorado court in 2006, Phillips and Young are suspected of killing Triano, though criminal charges haven’t been filed.

“I believe that Ron Young and Pamela Phillips were involved in the bombing death of Gary Triano; that Pamela Phillips agreed to pay Ron Young $400,000 over time for his participation; that after the murder Pamela Phillips made scheduled payments toward this $400,000 debt, but stopped making the payments at times because she believed it was illegal to get cash withdrawals of the amounts necessary and/or that her money manager would get suspicious if she kept taking out large amounts of (cash),” sheriff’s Detective James Gamber said in the affidavit.

“Pamela Phillips was angry at Ron Young when he demanded his share of interest on top of the $400,000; that the lack of payments upset Ron Young; and that Pamela Phillips and Ron Young both knew it was important to conceal their ongoing relationship and they tried to act accordingly,” Gamber said.

The affidavit was used to support a request to search Phillips’ home in Aspen, Colo.

Triano and Phillips were married in October 1986 in San Diego and divorced in November 1993. The divorce was bitter and the marriage ended “with a lot of animosity,” the affidavit says.

Phillips has denied having anything to do with Triano’s death.

Triano had tried to put together questionable gambling operations in Mexico, China and on a Caribbean island, not all of which would have been legal, Sheriff Clarence Dupnik has said. Everyone involved in those deals, including some people who may have had organized crime connections, lost money, he said.

In 1994, Triano filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for his Frontier Investments, citing $40 million in debts, the Citizen has reported.

Shortly before Triano’s death, Los Angeles police found Young’s abandoned rental car, which contained a sawed-off shotgun, Triano divorce paperwork and a Tucson street map.

Young dropped from sight in Aspen shortly after Triano’s slaying, Detective Sgt. Willie Belin, head of the cold case unit, has said.

On the day he died, Triano went to play a round of golf, then got into the borrowed 1989 Lincoln Town Car he was using, the Citizen previously reported.

Triano leaned over toward a package on the passenger side and a bomb exploded.

Perhaps he moved the package or opened it, or maybe someone set off the bomb inside from a distance, tearing the car open and killing Triano instantly, investigators said previously.

That night, Triano was to have been toasted at a surprise birthday party at his home. He would have been 53 five days later.

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