Two charged with fatal shooting in University Place

Staff writerJune 24, 2014 

Pierce County prosecutors on Tuesday charged two men with second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of a University Place man last month.

Thomas Law II, 30, and Brandon Wilburn, 22, pleaded not guilty and were each ordered held in lieu of $1 million bail.

The men are accused of killing Phillip Little, 27, after a drug deal went bad May 20. An autopsy revealed Little was shot four times, three of which were in the back.

Witnesses told Pierce County sheriff’s detectives they heard either Law or Wilburn say, “Oh my God, dude, I can’t believe we did that” as they fled the scene, according to charging papers.

Little’s body was found down an embankment adjacent to a strip mall near 56th and Orchard streets with an unloaded semiautomatic pistol nearby. He was pronounced dead within 30 minutes of the shooting.

Detectives found seven shell casings near the victim’s body and Wilburn’s cell phone near the victim’s car. The phone allegedly contained multiple phone calls and text messages with Law and Little just before the shooting.

Cell phone records for Law showed he was in the area at the time of the shooting and called Wilburn’s ex-girlfriend immediately afterward, court records state.

A bag of empty capsules found inside Little’s vehicle, along with text messages arranging drug deals, led investigators to believe Little was shot over a soured drug deal.

Wilburn’s ex-girlfriend allegedly told detectives Wilburn talked about getting a one-way ticket back to Tennessee.

“She said he was acting paranoid and said he felt he got set up,” according to court documents.

Both men denied being involved with the shooting. Law and Wilburn met in jail, records show.

Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653 stacia.glenn@thenewstribune.com

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