Attorneys sparred in court Wednesday as they closed their arguments before a jury in the monthlong trial of a Templeton man accused of murdering his girlfriend following a domestic dispute.
Since the beginning of the trial, the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office has maintained that Philip Thomas Hanes, 58, fatally stabbed Tina Marie Beddow, 32, in a rage the night of June 4 after she threatened to leave him.
Hanes’ defense attorney argued that the stabbing was an accident following a struggle between the two brought on by Beddow’s hallucinations. Attorney Ilan Funke-Bilu said Hanes had no motive to kill Beddow, who — evidence showed — had a long history of drug abuse that culminated in a methamphetamine-induced psychotic episode less than two months prior to her death.
Hanes has pleaded not guilty to a single charge of murder.
Since the trial began Dec. 4, more than 50 witnesses — including sheriff’s deputies, forensic specialists, ambulance drivers, family members, former co-workers and even Hanes’ 6-year-old grandson, who was in bed during the stabbing — have told differing accounts of what likely happened June 4.
In his testimony, Hanes described dealing with a recently fired and increasingly delusional Beddow throughout the day June 4. At about 10 p.m., as he lay sleeping in his locked bedroom, Hanes said, Beddow began pounding on his door and screaming. Worried for his grandson, who was in his own bedroom, Hanes said he exited the room and was confronted moments later by Beddow, who was holding a fillet knife with a 6-1⁄4-inch blade.
He testified that he tried to knock the knife away from her, a brief struggle ensued and they both fell to the floor, where he then saw the blade sticking in Beddow’s chest.
He then pulled it out and unsuccessfully began looking for his phone to call 911, Hanes said. Beddow died on the way to the hospital.
On Tuesday, Deputy District Attorney Greg Devitt called Hanes “completely and utterly unbelievable,” arguing that his story changed four times since his arrest.
Devitt argued there was no evidence that Beddow was in the midst of a drug-induced psychosis on June 4. While her blood alcohol content was 0.2, well over the legal limit to drive, no methamphetamine was found in her system.
“Tina didn’t deserve to die because she had a drug problem. She died because she was trying to leave,” Devitt told jurors in his closing statement.
Devitt again showed photos of the hallway, which had been sprayed with chemicals to show where blood had been wiped up. Hanes denied trying to clean the scene before deputies arrived.
“He’s lying. He’s lying because he has to fit this square peg into a round hole,” Devitt said.
Devitt said that while Hanes does not have a documented history of violence, Hanes was controlling of women and could not allow Beddow to leave him.
“Because he had been drinking, because he was intoxicated, (Beddow’s threatening to leave) made him angry,” Devitt said. “And it happened that fast.”
Funke-Bilu said in his closing argument that sheriff’s deputies had a preconceived notion of Hanes’ guilt that biased their investigation early on. He argued that when investigators tested the knife for DNA, they didn’t test whether Beddow’s DNA found on it was from perspiration, which could imply she was holding the knife.
Despite Hanes’ former co-workers’ testimony that he once showed them a “kill list” of people he would shoot if he were ever facing jail time or an illness, Funke-Bilu noted that Hanes’ ex-wife, Mildred McGuire, testified that Hanes never became violent with her, even when he drank, over the course of more than 12 years together.
“What does this 58-year-old man have to gain by killing this drug addict?” Funke-Bilu asked, referring to Hanes and Beddow.
In her call to 911 on June 4, Beddow told a dispatcher that Hanes stabbed her because she “wanted to leave.”
Funke-Bilu showed a Twin Cities Community Hospital physician’s report of Beddow’s hospital stay in April in which she was diagnosed as having a drug-induced psychotic episode. In that report, the physician wrote that Beddow was hallucinating and also repeating that she “wanted to leave.”
Funke-Bilu further dissected the June 4 recording of Beddow’s 911 call, in which Hanes is heard saying, “I didn’t do this, baby. It was an accident,” to which Beddow responds, “I know.”
Lastly, Funke-Bilu showed photos of bruises on Beddow’s hands, wrists and ankles as well as Hanes’ knee, which Funke-Bilu said showed evidence of a struggle.
In order to find Hanes guilty of first-degree murder, jurors have to find that Beddow was not only killed unlawfully, but also that Hanes showed malice and premeditation.
Should jurors not find him guilty of murder, they can still find him guilty of lesser offenses of voluntary or involuntary manslaughter.
A verdict is expected in the coming days.