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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Victim in 2008 beating dies

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

A 38-year-old woman whose husband is accused of beating her in their 'Ewa Beach home in 2008 has died in a Florida hospital.

Tara Phillips had been hospitalized since she was found beaten in the bedroom of her Kai'oli Street home on Sept. 3, 2008. Prosecutors said Phillips was bludgeoned with a hammer and suffered "multiple depressed skull fractures and massive brain injuries," and that she was not expected to survive.

Phillips was transferred to the James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital in Tampa, Fla., where she died April 19. Services were held yesterday and she was buried at Barrancas National Cemetery near her home in Pensacola, Fla.

On Sept. 10, 2008, an O'ahu grand jury indicted her husband, Lincoln Phillips, on one count of second-degree attempted murder. He remains in custody at the O'ahu Community Correctional Center on $500,000 bail.

Jim Fulton, spokesman for the city prosecutor's office, said his office will await a cause of death from the medical examiner's office before deciding whether to pursue a murder charge against Phillips.

"At this point in time, there's no speculation as to what the cause of death was," Fulton said. "It has to be causal for us to move forward."

Phillips, 36, is scheduled to go on trial on the attempted murder charge Aug. 23 before Circuit Judge Karen Ahn.

State Deputy Public Defender Randall Hironaka would not comment yesterday on Phillips' plan- ned defense.

Police were sent to the Phillipses' home shortly before 4 a.m. Sept. 3, 2008, on a report of an assault. When officers arrived at the home, Lincoln Phillips told them that someone broke into his home and assaulted his wife, according to a police affidavit filed in Honolulu District Court.

Phillips said that earlier he had trouble sleeping and went for a drive about an hour before he discovered his wife injured. When he returned, he said, he got into bed with her and noticed she was having problems breathing, the affidavit said.

But police said there were no signs of a forced entry into the home and that Phillips gave inconsistent statements when questioned, the affidavit said. Police also became suspicious when they found a bloody hammer and clothes belonging to Phillips in the home, the affidavit said.

Witnesses told police they heard the couple arguing in the home about 3:30 a.m. on Sept. 3. One witness also reported hearing "a loud thumping sound coming from the upstairs portion of Tara and Lincoln's residence" where Tara Phillips was found injured, the affidavit said.

Police arrested Lincoln Phillips two days later on suspicion of attempted murder. He was stationed at Schofield Barracks at the time of the incident.

Tara Phillips was born in Pensacola and joined the Army in 1990. She served in Germany and the first Gulf War before being honorably discharged in 2000.

Tara Phillips earned a bachelor's degree in business from Hawai'i Pacific University in 2004. She is survived by two sons, her mother and four sisters.