Trial opens for man accused of bashing wife's head with hammer

Lincoln Phillips
Lincoln Phillips
Landon Murata
Landon Murata
Shinnosuke Suga
Shinnosuke Suga
Ofr. Stanley Collins
Ofr. Stanley Collins

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Trial began Thursday for a man accused of trying to kill his wife by bashing her on the head with a hammer at their Ewa Beach townhouse three years ago.

Lincoln Phillips, 37, is accused of repeatedly taking a hammer to his wife's head, after two days of arguing over his affair with another woman.

"The defendant, after days of arguing, had another argument at 3:30 in the morning, went downstairs, grabbed his hammer, went upstairs and beat his wife," Landon Murata, deputy prosecutor, said. "Everything that he's done since then has been an attempt to cover up his crime."

Tara Phillips suffered multiple skull fractures and massive brain injuries. Emergency crews who responded to the couple's Kaioli Street home on September 3, 2008 say they found the victim on her bed in critical condition.

"I had also seen blood splattered on the bed, against the wall, and she was barely breathing," Shinnosuke Suga, emergency medical technician, testified.

Prosecutors say there was also blood splattered on the bedroom walls and on the ceiling fan.

"I thought someone had been shot," Emmett Hall, Honolulu Fire Department, said.

The defendant maintains that he discovered his severely injured wife when he returned home at about 4 AM.

"He said something to the effect that he left, that he and his wife had gotten into an argument, and he left to go cool off," Ofr. Stanley Collins, Honolulu Police Department, testified.

Collins says it did not appear that the home had been broken into or ransacked.

"I immediately tried to locate a point of entry," he said.

"Were you able to locate one?" the prosecutor asked.

"No, I was not," the officer replied.

Collins says the defendant then grabbed the remote control for his garage door and showed him how it wouldn't open and close properly.

The officer testified that about 15 minutes after police arrived on scene -- right before the "demonstration with the garage" -- the husband mentioned for the first time that there were children in the house.

"I just assumed that they were someplace else, and he had said that they were upstairs," Collins said. "That kind of surprised me."

Collins says he immediately asked other officers to check upstairs to make sure the kids were not hurt.

Police say they located the hammer on a cooler in the garage and bloody clothing buried in their trash can.

The defense says HPD failed to conduct a thorough investigation, and that the woman whom Lincoln Phillips was having an affair with could have been a suspect.

"They didn't take a look at her house," Randall Hironaka, deputy public defender, said. "They didn't take a look at her car. They didn't even really ask her any questions about her confrontations with Tara Phillips."

Tara Phillips remained hospitalized until her death about a year-and-a-half later.

The defendant is charged with attempted murder because his wife ultimately died from an illness that wasn't directly linked to her bludgeoning.

"This case is not about the evidence," Hironaka said. "It's about the interpretation of that evidence."

Prosecutors say the children who were in the house were the victim's two sons -- ages 15 and 11 -- from a prior relationship. They're expected to be called to the witness stand early next week.

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