Man found guilty on all charges in Nob Hill murder of elderly friend

A 65-year-old man standing trial for murder was found guilty on all counts Thursday in connection with the fatal beating of his elderly friend in Nob Hill, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Jurors convicted Michael Phillips on nine counts including murder, robbery and burglary for beating 75-year-old James Sheahan to death last August. Prosecutors argued that Phillips killed Sheahan after the older man refused to loan him money to fly his partner from the Philippines to the U.S.

The jury deliberated on the charges for two days before returning the verdict.

Phillips’ attorney, Kwixuan Maloof of the Public Defender’s Office, argued during closing arguments this week that Phillips was not the killer. Maloof claimed that the actual killer burglarized the Bush Street apartment where Sheahan lived.

But Assistant District Attorney O’Bryan Kenney argued that Phillips staged a burglary after killing Sheahan and even went as far as slitting the victim’s wrists to make the homicide look like a suicide.

Sheahan and Phillips had been friends for more than a decade. Maloof argued that the two were “very good friends,” as Sheahan once wrote in a journal, suggesting that Phillips would never kill him.

But Kenney painted Phillips as a desperate man who would do anything to marry his partner. Kenney said Phillips cashed thousands in possibly forged checks from Sheahan after the killing and flew his boyfriend into the country.

Sheahan lived at 969 Bush St. At the time of his death, he was suffering from stage-four lung cancer.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

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