Trial begins for man accused of killing 75-year-old

Irwin Pentland at his murder trial on Nov. 28, 2017. (KXAN Photo)
Irwin Pentland at his murder trial on Nov. 28, 2017. (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The trial of a man accused of killing a 75-year-old last year began Tuesday in Austin.

Irwin Pentland, 48, faces a capital murder charge for the Nov. 19, 2016 killing, in which Phillip Leon Liberty was found shot to death in his garage in northwest Austin. Investigators found a trail of blood and believe Liberty may have been dragged from the living room to the garage.

Pentland is also charged in a related case in which he picked up Liberty’s 2-year-old grandson from daycare the day before police found Liberty’s body. Pentland faced abandoning or endangering a child charges after leaving the boy unsupervised at his mother’s home. The grandson lived with Liberty, who would normally bring him to daycare. A neighbor initially called police for a welfare check after not seeing Liberty or the boy the morning of Nov. 19. They had a strict routine of visiting that neighbor at the same time each morning before heading to daycare, according to the affidavit.

The suspect admitted he hid the boy and left him alone, before dropping him off at daycare the next day, according to an affidavit. He also told police he had known Liberty for seven years and had been at Liberty’s home Nov. 18 to discuss “a proposed business endeavor.”

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

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