Court docs detail gruesome November murder

Irwin Pentland (Austin Police Department)
Irwin Pentland (Austin Police Department)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Police have charged Irwin Pentland with murder in the killing of 75-year-old Phillip Leon Liberty, who was found shot to death Nov. 19 in the garage of his Northwest Austin home.

Pentland, 46, faces a first-degree felony charge in the case. He is currently in Travis County Jail with a combined bond of $1.2 million.

According to new details in a Jan. 19 arrest affidavit, Pentland was possibly behind on child support payments to his ex-wife, he forged checks belonging to the victim and he searched online for firearms near the time of the killing.

In a related case, police previously charged Pentland with abandoning a child and arrested him in early December. Officials said Pentland picked up Liberty’s grandchild under suspicious circumstances the day of the homicide and left the child alone at his mother’s house, an affidavit states. The childcare provider did not have Pentland on its list of approved people to pick up the two year old, police said.

The investigation began Nov. 19, when a neighbor called police saying Liberty did not follow his strict morning routine before taking his granddaughter to daycare that day. Police then found a grisly scene inside Liberty’s home. A trail of blood suggested someone dragged Liberty’s body from the living room to the garage.

“A white plastic bag covered [Liberty’s] head in an apparent attempt to control the flow of blood, which issued from a devastating gunshot wound to the face,” according to the affidavit.

Police said the killer altered the murder scene, cleaned parts of the living room, rearranged furniture and, at some point, likely abandoned a plan to dispose of Liberty’s body in his own Mercedes-Benz, which had a trunk lined with pieces of carpet.

Police searched Pentland’s Facebook records and found evidence he was behind on child support payments to his ex wife, the affidavit states. Pentland’s financial records also showed he cashed, or attempted to cash, several checks totaling $22,300 from two of Liberty’s bank accounts “in the days prior, day of and days after the murder,” the affidavit states.

Inside Pentland’s laptop, police found records of Internet searches for firearm suppressors, also called silencers, and gun sale classified advertisements near the time of the killing, police said.

Pentland had prior arrests for aggravated robbery, theft by check, assault on a public servant, evading arrest and assault with injury. He was given deferred adjudication for the aggravated robbery charge in 2011 and placed on 10 years of probation, according to the affidavit.

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