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Former socialite found guilty in Arizona car bomb death of ex-husband

PHOENIX (Reuters) - A former Arizona socialite was convicted of first-degree murder on Tuesday in the 1996 car-bomb killing of her ex-husband, a prominent real estate developer, in the parking lot of a Tucson resort, prosecutors said.

Jurors also found Pamela Phillips, 56, guilty of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the fiery death of husband Gary Triano that shocked the community and went unsolved for years.

The Pima County Superior Court jury deliberated for nearly three days before rendering the guilty verdicts, prosecutor Rick Unklesbay said.

Phillips faces life in prison with the possibility of parole in 25 years or natural life in prison under the convictions, Unklesbay said. She is scheduled for sentencing on May 22.

During the seven-week trial, prosecutors said Phillips killed her husband so that she could collect on a $2 million life insurance policy and continue the lavish lifestyle that she had grown accustomed to during her marriage.

Prosecutors say she paid ex-boyfriend Ronald Young $400,000 to kill Triano, who died when a pipe bomb exploded in the front seat of his car on November 1, 1996.

Young was convicted of first-degree murder in 2010 and was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

Unklesbay said the case had gone unsolved for years before authorities learned of the connection between Phillips and Young after he was arrested in an unrelated case.

Computer records and recorded telephone calls between the two were sufficient to help bring the case to trial, he said. Phillips was arrested in December 2009 in Austria and extradited to Tucson about six months later.

(Reporting by David Schwartz; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Ken Wills)

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