15-year-old girl charged as adult in elderly woman's beating death

FONTANA, Calif. - A 15-year-old girl accused of beating to death an elderly ''cat lady'' with a monkey wrench, hatchet and other tools was arraigned Wednesday on a charge of first-degree murder and her lawyer entered an innocent plea.

Christy Phillips, whom prosecutors said has shown no remorse, appeared confused by the proceedings in San Bernardino County Superior Court, where she was charged as an adult.

According to court documents, the girl used a hatchet, monkey wrench, lug wrench and a wood-splitting metal wedge to kill Manuela Ramos Fyock, 72, in her Rialto home Saturday afternoon.

Phillips gave investigators ''full details'' of the slaying, but no motive, police Lt. Joe Cirilo said.

''It's baffled us,'' he said. ''How do you make sense of such a heinous crime?''

Phillips uttered only one word in court. The petite Colton teen-ager replied ''yes'' when the judge asked if she could afford to hire her own lawyer. She was unable, however, to explain the source of the money.

Handcuffed and wearing a blue detention jumpsuit, her hair carefully braided and bound, Phillips sat silently as an innocent plea was entered by Thomas Ricker, her court-appointed public defender.

Outside court, Ricker said he did not think she understood the seriousness of the charge against her. He also condemned California's voter-approved Proposition 21, which allows youngsters over 14 to be charged as adults in homicide cases without approval of a juvenile court judge.

''This 15-year-old girl today, for instance, is now being treated as if she were 35,'' he said. ''There is no juvenile process. There is no investigation, psychologically.''

Fyock was known as the ''cat lady'' to local children because she owned about 50 cats. Phillips was visiting a 13-year-old friend who lived around the corner from Fyock.

The girls allegedly told police that they walked to the home, asked if they could have a cat and were invited inside. The woman was then bludgeoned by the 15-year-old as the younger girl stood by, police say.

The 13-year-old, who is mildly retarded, ran out of the house. She did not immediately report the killing because she was afraid the older girl would kill her, too, said her mother, Shirley Bishop.

Bishop said she called police several hours later after her daughter mentioned that Fyock had suffered an ''accident.''

The 13-year-old will not be charged with a crime, prosecutors said.

Phillips is charged with first-degree murder with use of a deadly weapon. She could face life in prison without parole if convicted.

''I don't really seem to see the remorse that you might see in another case,'' prosecutor Ben Gonzales said after the hearing. ''This seems to be a pretty cold situation.''


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment