• Mass. man convicted of 2009 ax killing over loan


    DEDHAM, Mass. (AP) - A 32-year-old Braintree man was convicted Wednesday of first-degree murder in the 2009 ax killing of a neighbor who refused to lend him money.

    The Norfolk Superior Court jury deliberated for two days before returning the verdict against Lucas Walters on what would have been the 35th birthday of his victim, Jeffrey Phillips.

    Prosecutors said Phillips had refused the loan partly because Walters already owed him money. The men argued and Walters killed Phillips. Phillips' family reported him missing three days later.

    The next day, prosecutors said, Walters went to police and said he had killed Phillips defending himself in a fight.

    He told police he first hid Phillips' body in a shed near the multi-family house where they lived, then later wrapped the body in a tarp and drove it to a wooded area of Suffield, Conn., near where Walters once lived in Southwick, Mass.

    The Patriot Ledger of Quincy reports that Walters' lawyer, William Sullivan, said in his closing argument his client didn't plan to kill Phillips and the evidence pointed to manslaughter, nor murder. "He got in a fight and he exploded," Sullivan said. He said Walters struggled with drug addiction for years and was using drugs and alcohol that day.

    Prosecutor Brian Wilson told jurors that Walters went to great lengths to hide the crime. "He took all these steps so no one could find the body," Wilson said.

    Walters faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.

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