Socialite Murder Trial Hinges on Insurance Policy

PHOTO: Defendant Pamela Phillips listens to her attorney talk to the jury as opening arguments commence, Feb. 19, 2014, in Tucson, Ariz.
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Is she a socialite, a sociopath or both?

Pamela Phillips, 56, is on trial in the 1996 car-bomb death of her former husband, high-flying commercial real estate developer Gary Triano. Tucson, Ariz., prosecutors say she wanted his $2 million life insurance policy to keep up her lavish lifestyle after their divorce.

She faced a dire financial situation, with friends loaning her hundreds of thousands of dollars, prosecutors say. But she continued paying the premiums on her former husband's insurance policy.

WATCH: Will Pamela Phillips Take the Stand?

Prosecutors say Phillips' greed led her to pay a hit man, onetime boyfriend Ronald Young, to plant a pipe bomb in her former husband's car. He was convicted in 2010 and sentenced to two life terms in prison.

Triano died after finishing a round of golf with his friend Luis Ruben Lopez, who recalled the death in court last week.

"His head was slumped over," Lopez said. "His right arm and hand were gone."

WATCH: Pamela Phillips on Trial in Husband's Death

After Triano's death, authorities say Phillips became a mother on the run, living it up in Aspen, Colo., until authorities arrested her at a luxury European hotel in 2009.

She has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

Her attorney, Paul Eckerstrom, says her husband had lots of enemies.

"Gary Triano lived on the edge, the financial edge. ... He borrowed a lot of money from all sorts of people, many people who maybe were connected with organized crime," Eckerstrom told jurors last week. "That's who we think did this. That's who killed Gary Triano, not Pamela Phillips."

Phillips is unlikely to take the stand because there's too much to explain, ABC News chief legal affairs anchor Dan Abrams said.

He said the entire case hinges on the insurance policy.

"The prosecution can't connect her directly to the bomb, so they're showing she clung to this insurance policy in a highly suspicious way," Abrams said.

"The prosecution has a very complicated case to build, to tie her to the insurance policy and the hit man, who they say kept very meticulous financial records. That's why this trial is expected to be a long one."

If convicted, Phillips could spend the rest of her life in prison.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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