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Attorney: Woman acted in self-defense when she killed 72-year-old West York man

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

A woman accused of fatally shooting a 72-year-old man in his West York apartment last summer wasn't the aggressor in the confrontation, according to her defense attorney.

"We plan to establish that she acted in self-defense," first assistant public defender Clasina Houtman said on behalf of client Barbara Ann Miles. 

Barbara Miles

Miles, 56, of the 200 block of South Hartley Street, remains in prison without bail, charged with homicide, receiving stolen property and carrying a firearm without a license. Her formal court arraignment is now scheduled for Dec. 15.

She's accused of using a stolen .40-caliber handgun to shoot Gresville Phillip once in the chest on Aug. 25 in his Kingston House apartment.

West York Police Detective David Kahley testified at Miles' preliminary hearing on Wednesday, Nov. 8, and said Miles admitted to shooting Phillip. who was found lying in the middle of his living room floor.

Kahley said Kingston House employees saw Miles arrive at the apartment house about 10:30 a.m. that day, and she told them she was there to see Phillip, according to Kahley.

Passed out: Miles was arrested for the homicide hours later after York City Police found her passed out on the sidewalk in the 600 or 700 block of West Princess Street, the detective said.

In her bag was a loaded .40-caliber handgun that had been reported stolen in Kentucky, he said.

Under cross-examination by Houtman, Kahley testified he found no sign of a struggle in Phillip's apartment, but that neighbors reported hearing Miles and Phillip arguing for about 90 minutes before hearing a gunshot.

He said neighbors couldn't hear what the argument was about.


Knife found on floor: Kahley confirmed for Houtman that investigators found a kitchen knife lying on the floor next to Phillip's left arm. The blade of the knife was 6 or 8 inches long, he said.

He testified his investigation determined Miles and Phillip "were just friends," and that Phillip's blood-alcohol level at the time of his death was 0.36 percent — more than four times the legal limit for driving in Pennsylvania.

Miles was primarily quiet during her police interview, Kahley said, adding that he could tell she had been drinking. He confirmed that she said she didn't have much recollection of shooting Phillip.

Miles also told him that Phillip came at her with a knife as they argued, the detective confirmed.

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'Surprised' at charges: Houtman declined to discuss why Miles was passed out on a city sidewalk. She said she must still examine evidence, once it's turned over to her by the prosecution.

"I'm frankly surprised (police) brought charges, considering it was such a large knife," she told The York Dispatch.

Senior deputy prosecutor Chuck Murphy declined to comment about details of the case, but confirmed that after Miles has her formal court arraignment, her general homicide charge will be changed to first- and third-degree murder charges.

At the close of Miles' hearing Wednesday, District Judge Jennifer Clancy determined enough evidence exists for Miles to stand trial in York County Court.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.