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Woman tells court about husband's threat after Omaha slaying

Posted at 12:52 PM, Aug 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-22 13:52:10-04

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The ex-wife of a man on trial for an Omaha robbery and killing last year testified that he confessed to taking part, then punctuated it with a threat.

Vanessa Figures said in an Omaha courtroom Wednesday that Phillip Figures, whom she was married to at the time, told her about his role in the July 2018 robbery and killing of 57-year-old Frederick Green. She said a few days later he looked at her and said, “Don’t make me kill you, Vanessa.”

A prosecutor asked her how that made her feel.

“Like I would be dead by midnight,” Vanessa Figures told the court.

Phillip Figures, 39, is charged with first-degree murder and two related crimes in the killing of Green. Prosecutors have said they suspect a friend of Figures actually shot Green, but there isn’t enough evidence to charge him, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

Figures’ attorney tried to stop Vanessa Figures from testifying, citing spousal privilege. But Nebraska law says that privilege can’t be invoked in cases of confessions to violent crimes.

She testified for six hours about what she said Phillip Figures told her while they were still married and living in the Omaha suburb of Bellevue.

Green had been working at a car dealership after leaving prison on parole earlier last year but was still dealing drugs, she said her then-husband told her. She also said he told her his friend knew about Green and his drug business.

Vanessa Figures testified that Phillip Figures and his friend planned the heist for several weeks before carrying it out. She said Phillip Figures told her they surprised Green at his home and dragged him into the basement, where they beat him. She said the defendant told her he went back upstairs to find Green’s cash when he heard a shot. Green had been wounded in a leg and soon was begging for his life.

Vanessa Figures said her ex-husband told her he and his friend then agreed they had to kill Green so that he wouldn’t tell police what they had done. Green was then shot in the head, neck and back. While on the witness stand, she looked at her ex-husband and said: “I wasn’t going to tell anyone. But I thought I would end up dead.”

Testimony resumed Thursday morning.


Information from: Omaha World-Herald,