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December 18, 2012 9:09 am

Three charged in connection with armed robbery

Written by CJ Baker

Shot fired in incident

A Powell man has been charged with robbing a resident at gunpoint last week, while two others have been charged with helping commit the crime.

Obie J. Phillips, 38, faces six felony counts related to planning and commission of the Dec. 11 robbery and another six felony counts relating to a half-dozen auto burglaries committed earlier that morning. Phillips is alleged to have used a revolver he stole from a truck in the Tuesday morning robbery.

Phillips’ wife, 30-year-old Tori Phillips, and Michael Guzman, 29, each have been charged with four felony counts alleging they helped commit and plan the robbery. They are not charged in connection with the auto burglaries.

The three reportedly were in search of drugs and money at the residence. As of press time Monday, all three were being held in the Park County Detention Center on cash-only bonds.

At about 6:45 a.m. on Dec. 11, a man living at a Queens Boulevard trailer answered a knock at the door to find a masked man with a revolver. The armed man pointed the gun at the resident’s head and demanded valuables, the citizen later recounted to police.

After getting inside, the man took a shotgun that had been positioned inside the front door and forced the resident toward the back of the house. The resident reportedly was hit in the back of the head with the pistol, and the robber discharged a round that went through the trailer wall.

“(The resident) said that the man told him that he was going to ‘blow his head off’ just before he hit him and shot at him. (The resident) believed he was going to be killed,” wrote Sgt. Chad Miner in an affidavit used to obtain a warrant to search the trailer.

The robber reportedly stole a safe from a back bedroom before leaving.

The resident told police he waited for some time, then called the trailer’s renter, who had been staying elsewhere that night. Police were called at 7:20 a.m.

Police affidavits indicate the resident and renter gave conflicting accounts as to whether their roommate, who reportedly owned the safe, was in the trailer at the time of the robbery.

The search for a suspect was significantly aided by some crimes that reportedly occurred prior to the robbery.

Throughout Tuesday, Dec. 11, Powell police received eight reports of vehicles that had been broken into sometime on Monday night or Tuesday morning across the city. Significantly, the snow prints police found around those vehicles appeared to match those officers had spotted at the Queens Boulevard trailer.

All but one of the vehicles had a window broken, and each had blood left in or around the vehicle, according to an affidavit from Powell Police Investigator Mike Hall. In one instance, it appeared the bleeding burglar had stolen tissues. Another of the stolen items was a .41 caliber Taurus revolver — taken from a toolbox on West Seventh Street.

The following day, Dec. 12, Officer Matt Brilakis learned that a man had tried to buy .41 caliber bullets at a couple Powell businesses. From the man’s description, Brilakis believed it was Obie Phillips.

Officers saw Phillips on Bent Street later that day and noticed he had many cuts on his hands. In particular, he had large cuts on his left hand — consistent with the blood trail police had noticed at the scenes of the auto burglaries.

Phillips claimed he cut his hands while working on his car, but police found no blood under the hood where Phillips had said he’d been working. Phillips was arrested and ultimately admitted to burglarizing the vehicles and robbing the Queens Boulevard residence, police say. Phillips said Guzman had been involved as well.

After himself being arrested, Guzman reportedly told police that Phillips had come to his home at about 5:30 a.m. on Dec. 11 to ask for his help in a robbery. Guzman said Phillips told him the house supposedly had a lot of money and drugs inside, according to an affidavit from Hall. Guzman agreed to help, and he and the Phillipses came up with a plan, the affidavit says.

Guzman and Obie Phillips put black shoe polish and masks over their faces and Tori Phillips drove the two men to the residence. They brought a backpack with several tie straps.

“Guzman explained that they had planned to tie up the residents of the home because they didn’t know how long it would take to find the money and drugs,” Hall wrote. It appears those ties were never actually used. Guzman and Tori Phillips waited in the car while Obie Phillips went in, the affidavit says, but after about five minutes, they became worried.

Guzman said he tried the back door after hearing the gun fire, and Tori Phillips reportedly started pulling on the trailer’s cables and wires to try disconnecting the residence’s phones.

Guzman said they all fled with the shotgun and safe and went back to the Phillipses’ home on East Adams Street. Guzman said about $2,000 was in the safe, the affidavit says. There is no mention of the trio or police finding any drugs in the home, though Miner wrote that the trailer had a strong scent of marijuana.

Obie Phillips never mentioned any involvement by his wife and instead told police that he, Guzman, and a Hispanic man named “Cheecho” Torres committed the robbery, according to Hall’s affidavit.

Torres, Phillips claimed, was the one who actually fired the shot from the revolver and who came up with the idea of robbing the home.

Guzman and Tori Phillips apparently did not mention any “Cheecho” Torres and the man who was robbed referenced only one person being in the home.

Circuit Court Judge Bruce Waters set Obie Philips’ bond at $75,000 cash, Tori Phillips’ at $50,000 cash and Guzman’s at $40,000 cash during a Friday morning hearing in Cody. Deputy Park County Attorney Tim Blatt cited past criminal activity by all three and the strength of the cases against them in asking for relatively high bonds.

All three defendants told Waters they are disabled and live off Social Security payments.

Tori Phillips indicated she and her husband had been homeless for three months before coming to Powell in June. The couple previously lived in Massachusetts, Texas, Louisiana and Maine.

Tori Phillips said she would not be able to post $50,000. She also said the couple’s two children — a 13-year-old and a 9-year-old temporarily staying with a neighbor — needed care. She said Obie Phillips is “for sure going away to prison or whatever,” but said she had only driven the vehicle and did not participate in the most serious allegations referenced in the charges.

“Somebody has to come home (to the children),” Tori Phillips said, asking for a bond she could post.

Waters, however, said the children may end up in state custody.

“You are both a flight risk and a danger to the community,” Waters told Tori Phillips. He noted an outstanding misdemeanor warrant in Maine and said he didn’t “have any hesitation whatsoever” in implementing a $50,000 cash bond.

Obie Phillips said nothing in response to Blatt’s $75,000 recommendation, and Waters imposed it.

After Blatt recommended $50,000 for Guzman, the Powell resident said he has metal throughout his body and brain damage and can’t get the care he needs in jail.

“Is there any way I could get less, please?” Guzman asked.

Waters agreed that Guzman, who has lived primarily in Park County for the past 10 years, was less of a flight risk than the Phillipses.

“The problem is, these are very serious crimes, or allegations, and that’s just all there is to it,” he said.

Waters noted the allegation that a gun was fired during the burglary “and that is a big deal.”

He set Guzman’s bond at $40,000 cash. The judge said he hoped the detention staff could work with Guzman to address his medical concerns.

A preliminary hearing for the three has been set for 1:30 p.m. Friday, though in larger cases, it’s common for that hearing to be pushed back.

Powell police said in a news release last week that they anticipated more arrests.

2 comments

  • Comment Link December 22, 2012 5:33 am posted by Kenneth W. Brenzel

    Great job Powell PD!! Good heads up police work there, Patrolman Matt Brilakis!! He should be promoted, for all the great things he has done. Truly an asset to the community.

  • Comment Link December 24, 2012 1:37 pm posted by Anon-Neighborhood Watcher

    I live on Queens. I can't believe all this happened here. Powell of all places! The trailer smelled of Marijuana? I suspected drugs on this street. There is way too much traffic through here from 10:00 p.m-3:00 a.m. I'm glad those 3 got caught. But there is still more work to be done! Let's focus on the reason this crime took place, drugs and money. Let's get the drugs out of here. I'd like to see a neighborhood watch program start up on this street.

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