SAN FRANCISCO—On Thursday, October 18, a San Francisco jury found Michael J. Phillips, 65, of San Francisco, guilty on all counts including the first degree murder of James Sheahan, a 75-year-old San Francisco resident. The murder transpired on August 14, 2017 in the Nob Hill area. His caretaker was with him in his apartment on the 900 block of Bush Street. Three days later, the building manager found Sheahan’s deceased, blood-covered body inside the apartment.
According to a press release from the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, Phillips was found guilty of eight additional felonies, including aggravated mayhem, infliction of injury on an elderly person likely to cause great bodily injury, first degree robbery, first degree residential burglary, theft, and other crimes related to Mr. Sheahan’s murder. Additionally, a jury found the allegations true that Phillips committed the murder of Mr. Sheahan during the commission of a robbery and burglary.
The cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma. According to investigators, the weapon used in the attack was the landline phone inside Sheahan’s apartment. The phone was recovered with dried blood and human remains on it.
“I want to applaud the SFPD for a superb investigation, this was a devastating loss for the victim’s family and friends,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “This verdict sends a clear message that there is no place for violence in our community.”
Phillips was spotted in video surveillance entering and exiting the building about five different times on August 12 from 10:20 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Phillips carried multiple bags in and out of the apartment and wore gloves when he initially entered the complex after being buzzed in.
Jurors were able to view the surveillance footage, in addition to video of Philips attempting to access Sheahan’s bank account from a Wells Fargo ATM.
According to reports, Phillips’ attorney, Deputy Public Defender Kwixuan Maloof, stated that Phillips was often called to make withdrawals and deposits for Sheahan who was suffering from stage 4 lung cancer. Maloof argued that someone else murdered Sheahan, and not his client.
During a subsequent search of Phillips’ apartment, car, and storage unit, officers discovered items belonging to Mr. Sheehan including a box, keys, journals, and wallet containing the victim’s credit card. Phillips was arrested and taken into custody on November 22, 2017.
“This man will be held accountable due to the thoughtful and thorough investigation of the San Francisco Police Department, led by Sergeant Domenico Discenza,” said Assistant District Attorney O’Bryan Kenney. “Mr. Sheahan and his family will have justice because of their tireless efforts.”