Jury selection underway in Nob Hill killing of elderly resident

Jury selection began Monday in the murder trial of a 65-year-old man accused of killing his elderly friend over money inside a Nob Hill apartment, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Michael Phillips, of San Francisco, is charged with murder and other felonies for allegedly beating former city worker James Sheahan, 75, to death inside the elderly man’s studio at 969 Bush St. last August.

Police found a bloody scene at the apartment. Sheahan suffered injuries to the head and neck from a blunt object.

Phillips, prosecutors argue, needed money to bring his then-fiance to the U.S. from the Philippines.

“Mr. Phillips was desperate for money,” Assistant District Attorney Michael Swart said at the preliminary hearing in the case last December.

Prosecutors said surveillance footage showed Phillips repeatedly entering and exiting the apartment a day before Sheahan was found dead on Aug. 14, 2017. But Deputy Public Defender Kwixuan Maloof cast doubt on whether the video depicted Phillips during the preliminary hearing.

Several other pieces of evidence linked Phillips to the crime. Swart said at the preliminary hearing that Phillips cashed checks from Sheahan after the homicide. Police also found Sheahan’s wallet and journals in a storage container that belonged to Phillips.

Phillips brought his fiance to the U.S. after the homicide and married him. However his husband left the U.S. for the Philippines a day after his arrest last November.

The charges against Phillips include elder abuse and first-degree burglary, according to jail records.

Opening statements in the trial could begin as early as this week.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

Michael Barba
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