The attorney for 38-year-old Obie Phillips, said in Circuit Court on Friday that her client has agreed to plead no contest to eight of the 12 felony counts he faces and to accept the prison time in exchange for the dismissal of the other allegations against him.
The felony counts relate to a half-dozen vehicles Phillips allegedly burglarized earlier on Dec. 11 (police say that’s where he obtained the .41 caliber revolver used in the robbery) and the robbery itself.
Meanwhile, Cory Berisko, 22, was charged Thursday with felony counts of conspiring to commit aggravated robbery and burglary. Although there’s no evidence Berisko participated in the robbery, he’s alleged to have helped Phillips plan the crime by providing information about the home and its occupants.
Phillips is alleged to have threatened to blow off the head of the resident who answered the door of the Queens Boulevard trailer that morning, fired a shot and then hit the resident in the back of the head with the gun. Phillips directed the resident to lead him to a back bedroom where a roommate was sleeping, according to charging documents.
The trailer’s occupants initially gave police conflicting accounts about whether the roommate was home at the time of the robbery, but the roommate ultimately confirmed he was during a Dec. 14 interview with Powell Police Investigator Mike Hall.
“Before (the roommate) could open the door, the door was kicked open by a large male holding a silver revolver,” Hall wrote of the roommate’s account in an affidavit filed Thursday. “The male also had (the trailer renter’s) shotgun slung over his right shoulder. The male pointed the gun at (the roommate) and demanded drugs and money.”
The man, alleged to be Phillips, ultimately left with the roommate’s safe and the renter’s shotgun, police say.
According to the roommate, the safe contained about $3,300 in cash, along with some photos and a diamond necklace he was storing for the trailer’s renter, Hall wrote. None of the cash has been recovered, he said in Circuit Court on Friday.
Michael Guzman, 29, and Phillip’s wife, 30-year-old Tori Phillips, are alleged to have helped plan and prepare for the robbery and to have acted as lookouts. After the shot was fired, Guzman ran from the waiting car to the trailer’s back door, and Tori Phillips tried disconnecting the trailer’s phone line, charging documents allege.
Guzman and Tori Phillips each are charged with four felony counts, which all were transferred to District Court on Friday. Circuit Court Judge Bruce Waters found there was enough evidence against Tori Phillips for the case to proceed to District Court, while Guzman waived his right to a preliminary hearing.
The Phillipses and Guzman were charged within a couple days of the robbery, while police looked for a “Cory” that Guzman had mentioned as being involved, Hall said in court.
The roommate at the trailer told Hall the only Cory he knew was Berisko — and that he would have known the layout of the trailer and the location of the shotgun, and he knew there was money in the safe.
After being arrested on Wednesday, Berisko admitted telling Phillips about the shotgun, the trailer’s residents and the layout of the home, Hall wrote.
“Berisko said he provided Obie (Phillips) with the information because he was afraid Obie would kill him if he didn’t,” Hall said. Berisko reportedly told Hall that Phillips said “he was going to kill the residents at the house and take what he wanted.”
Berisko said he knew Obie Phillips was serious about robbing the house and believed it was a matter of when, according to the affidavit.
“Berisko admitted that he knew he ‘(messed) up’ by giving Obie the information,” Hall wrote.
For his part, Phillips denied knowing Berisko.
He told police earlier that a “Cheecho” Torres had come up with the idea for the robbery. Phillips also accused “Cheecho” of having fired the round from the revolver, court records say.
“At this point, it doesn’t appear Cheecho Torres exists,” Hall said in court on Friday.
Berisko was implicated in part by Phillips’ phone records, which police received through a search warrant. Hall says he found Phillips had been in contact with Berisko before and immediately after the robbery.
Hall said the records show Phillips texted Berisko at 7:07 a.m. — just minutes after the robbery — to say, “I need the combo to my new safe lol.”
At 10:16 a.m., after some more texts back and forth, the affidavit says Berisko wrote to Phillips with a different message.
“Delete text,” he reportedly wrote, adding, “I have.”
Police, however, reportedly retrieved the texts from the cell phone provider.
Berisko’s bond was set at $20,000 cash by Judge Waters during an initial Thursday appearance — $10,000 lower than what Deputy Park County Attorney Tim Blatt had requested. Berisko had been out on bond on a misdemeanor charge at the time of the robbery.
Waters set a preliminary hearing for Dec. 27, where he’ll determine if there’s enough evidence for the case to proceed.
While awaiting arraignment in District Court, Obie Philips is being held on a $75,000 cash bond and Tori Phillips on a $50,000 cash bond. Waters declined to lower Tori Phillips’ bond on Friday; Hall told the judge that Tori Phillips reportedly had been looking into buying bus tickets before her arrest. Prosecutors agreed to lower Guzman’s bond from $40,000 cash to a $25,000 surety bond in exchange for him waiving his right to a preliminary hearing.
Powell Police Chief Roy Eckerdt said Thursday that the case — which has so far yielded 22 felony counts and three misdemeanor citations — had “kind of been consuming” for the department.
“There’s a lot of officers that put in a lot of time to get this case put together, especially in such short order,” Eckerdt said. He noted the department has only one investigator; the rest of the investigation fell on patrol officers who also need to maintain the day-to-day functions of the department.
When asked if the investigation into the incident is complete, Eckerdt said there “could be more to follow.”