Man gets 55 years in 1999 slaying of EIU student

Edward Phillips is escorted out of the courthouse by Bailiff Luke Probst, left, and Corrections Officer Mykal Milton on Tuesday, May 29, 2007, in Belleville, Ill., after Phillips was sentenced to 55 years in prison for the 1999 shooting death of Eastern I The Associated Press

AP

Edward Phillips is escorted out of the courthouse by Bailiff Luke Probst, left, and Corrections Officer Mykal Milton on Tuesday, May 29, 2007, in Belleville, Ill., after Phillips was sentenced to 55 years in prison for the 1999 shooting death of Eastern I The Associated Press

By The Associated Press

BELLEVILLE, Ill. – A 41-year-old man has been sentenced to 55 years in prison for the slaying of an Eastern Illinois University student.

A jury convicted Edward Phillips last month in the 1999 killing of Amy Blumberg. St. Clair County Circuit Judge Jan Fiss sentenced Phillips on Tuesday, the Belleville News-Democrat and St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on the papers’ Web sites.

Phillips had faced up to 60 years in prison.

Blumberg of Collinsville was a 20-year-old junior at Eastern Illinois when she was shot in the head on New Year’s Eve of 1999 while working alone at her uncle’s dance apparel store in O’Fallon.

Prosecutors said Phillips came home with blood-soaked pants the night of Blumberg’s murder. Phillips told police that he found Blumberg dead when he went to the dance store to return a leotard he had bought for his daughter.

He said he fled without calling the police but told his ex-wife the next day about finding the woman’s body.

He has maintained his innocence since being charged in 2003. At Tuesday’s sentencing, he turned to Blumberg’s parents and said, “I did not kill Amy Blumberg.”

Defense attorney Andrew Sosnowski had argued at trial that Phillips’ ex-wife only went to police with information because she wanted leverage in their divorce proceedings.