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Robert D. Phillips
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Birth: 1955
Death: Nov. 16, 1981
Pleasant Valley
Potter County
Texas, USA


Authorities confirmed this morning an arrest in a nearly three-decade-old murder case.

James Terry Shellnut of Amarillo is facing two counts of murder for his alleged role in a murder-for-hire plot.

On Nov. 16, 1981, Robert Phillips, 25, and his fiancee, 22-year-old Phyllis Ann Fassauer, were fatally shot in their living room. Their bodies were found the following day lying next to each other. Phillips was still holding a sandwich in his hand despite a gunshot wound to the head. Fassauer was shot four times, once in the neck and three times in the torso.

William Randall Bennett, 24, was arrested at the time for both murders. Shellnut subsequently was arrested for the murder of Phillips after Bennett revealed details of the plot to investigators. Authorities believed Faussauer was simply a bystander.

Charges against Shellnut were eventually dropped because of a twist in Texas law. Investigators had to develop evidence against Shellnut independent of Bennett's testimony. Authorities had a second witness who claimed Shellnut admitted to his part in the crime, but later retracted his statement.

Shellnut, now 53, was arrested Thursday on two counts of murder. Authorities were not available this morning to discuss what led to the break in the case.

UPDATE- 5-20-09:

UPDATE- 3-20-10
Shelnutt sentenced to life in prison

James Terry Shelnutt, convicted Wednesday of double murder in a nearly 30-year-old cold case, was sentenced to life in prison by a Potter County jury today.

Shelnutt will be eligible for parole after 20 years.

The jury Wednesday found Shelnutt guilty of two counts of murder in the Nov. 16, 1981, slayings of Robert Phillips, 25, and fiancÚ Phyllis Ann Fassauer, 22.

The trial in 320th District Court began Monday. Jury deliberations lasted less than 90 minutes.

Prosecutors argued that Shelnutt, 54, offered his friend William Randall Bennett, then 24, money and drugs to kill Phillips. The offer was made after Phillips got into a fight with Shelnutt.

Bennett testified that Shelnutt provided him with a gun and drove him to Phillips' Pleasant Valley home to kill him, then picked him up after the shootings.

Bennett's payment was $1,000 worth of methamphetamine, according to trial testimony.

Bennett was convicted of the killings in the summer of 1982 and served 25 years of a 75-year sentence.

The Potter-Randall Special Crimes Unit reopened the cold case in 2008 and arrested Shelnutt at his home in February 2009. Shelnutt's defense attorney, C.J. McElroy of Amarillo, attempted to prove Bennett forced Shelnutt's involvement, pointing out Bennett only mentioned Shelnutt to police 10 days after his confession. Bennett said he didn't want to be a "snitch." 
"A Friend To Many"
Citizens Cemetery
Donley County
Texas, USA
Created by: Tim
Record added: Jul 22, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 20580915
Robert D. Phillips
Added by: Chuck Robertson
Robert D. Phillips
Added by: Tim
Robert D. Phillips
Cemetery Photo
Added by: Roy Lindsey
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It is now over , may they all rest in peace...
 Added: Nov. 4, 2013
very nice memorial,,may they now rest in peace...
 Added: Jun. 3, 2010

- Tim
 Added: Mar. 19, 2010
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