Criminal Justice

Top lawyer for tech company is slain; ex-roommate who lost eviction case is sought as suspect

A Minnesota lawyer who served as chief counsel for Boston Scientific worldwide businesses and was known as a caring, involved member of his community was shot and run over at a gas station outside Minneapolis on Monday.

A suspect being sought in connection with the slaying of Kelly L. Phillips, 48, is a former roommate and business partner of the victim, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports.

A witness to the slaying told the newspaper Phillips was a passenger in a BMW driven by the shooter. Josh Polos said he heard shouting as the vehicle passed his at the gas station, then saw two men get out. The driver shot the passenger alongside the car, then again in the back as the victim started running and then in the head at close range as he pleaded for his life, the Star-Tribune reports. Before driving away, the shooter backed up, then ran over Phillips, Polos said.

The crime took place in Arden Hills, about 2 miles from where Phillips worked.

At last report, the suspect named by the Ramsey County sheriff’s department, commercial developer Lyle “Ty” Hoffman, 44, was still at large. KMSP says the BMW was found by authorities and gas station surveillance video captured the crime scene.

The Star-Tribune says Hoffman and Phillips opened a gay bar in Minneapolis known as Lush Food Bar five years ago, and at one point the two lived together.

However, a few years ago the romance between the two men cooled, Kathy Simon, who was formerly married to Phillips and remained friendly with him, told the newspaper. Phillips said at the time that “Ty was sort of violent and that he was ending the relationship,” Simon recounted. “I looked him straight in the eye and said, ‘Get a lawyer, you know how this works. Take some steps.’ ”

Phillips sued to evict Hoffman from a Minneapolis residence he owned, winning the court battle months ago, according to the Star-Tribune. Engaged to another man, Phillips had planned to be married within a few weeks.

Employed for 14 years at Boston Scientific, Phillips was described as a dear friend and colleague, in a written statement by the company. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends,” it continues. “Kelly will be remembered not only for his great skills as a lawyer, but also for his kindness, gentleness and ability to make those around him feel better about themselves. He will be sorely missed by his many friends here at Boston Scientific.”

A Minneapolis city council member whose ward includes the Lush Food Bar said Phillips was heavily involved in local life. “While he had money, he didn’t just donate,” Jacob Frey told the Star-Tribune. “He was knocking on dorm room doors for marriage equality. He didn’t just sit up on his perch and look down at the world. He got his hands dirty and worked the community.”

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