An Ellis County jury took less than two hours Monday to convict Miguel Arciba of capital murder in the death of Doris Phillips.
Arciba, 50, received an automatic sentence of life in prison without parole as a result of the jury’s decision. Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty.
Phillips, 81, disappeared from her Reagor Springs home July 25, 2006.
Arciba was initially arrested Sept. 3, 2006, on a burglary charge relating to the case and led authorities to Phillips’ body in an abandoned house near Bardwell several days later, Sept. 8.
He has been in custody since on a $1 million bond.
The trial involved four days of testimony and more than 140 exhibits, the majority of which were photographs. Also entered into evidence were a knife, Phillips’ bloody T-shirt, DNA evidence and an autopsy report indicating the 81-year-old suffered a fractured pelvis and skull.
“We have proven to you she died a very violent, horrible death,” chief felony prosecutor Don Maxfield told jurors during closing arguments.
Phillips’ three sons, Jim, John and Ron, gave victim impact statements after the jury’s verdict was returned.
“You brutally attacked and then murdered my momma, a weak, helpless 81-year-old woman,” Jim Phillips said. “A real man couldn’t do this, only a weak, gutless coward would. You dishonored your own family and, even worse, you disrespected your own mother. … Even with all of her efforts to make you a good man, all you gave her was heartache, grief and tears.”
John Phillips told Arciba that he couldn’t imagine what his mother had suffered.
“I lay awake at night thinking about it. At first I thought it could be that she didn’t suffer much, but, after reviewing the evidence, it seems she could have suffered long. … No one else will ever know the horrible things she might have suffered. The truth is only known by the killer, my mom and God, who sees and hears everything.”
John Phillips remarked on the defense’s position Arciba’s rights had been violated during the investigation.
“The whole time, who was concerned with my mother’s rights?” he asked. “I don’t think your inconvenience compares to the brutality of her treatment. … Even as you left my mother’s body to rot in that house, you will waste away in prison.”
Saying he was commanded by God to forgive his mother’s killer, John Phillips urged Arciba to turn to God, saying, “You need to consider how you will spend eternity. … I release you into God’s hands. I forgive you in the name of Jesus Christ. Go live your life.”
As did his brothers before him, Ron Phillips talked of the impact on the Phillips family.
“I can’t find rhyme or reason for what happened,” he told Arciba. “You didn’t know my mother, you never ate her cookies. You never smelled the smells coming from her kitchen. She made a house a home.”
Ron Phillips told Arciba he “wouldn’t want to be in your shoes. Prison is a hard place to be.”
As did his brother before him, Ron Phillips urged Arciba to find God.
“This is man’s judgement. You can tell us you didn’t do it. You can even convince your family you didn’t, but God knows,” Ron Phillips said. “And I pray you can find his mercy.”
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