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Mazomanie homicide suspect : ‘I did not want this to happen’

Published On: Apr 03 2014 03:06:17 PM CDT   Updated On: Apr 03 2014 05:35:27 PM CDT

Photo courtesy Dane County Sheriff's Office

Phillip Byrd

MADISON, Wis. -

A man charged with killing a Mazomanie woman told police he should be held accountable for her death, and that he didn’t kill her in cold blood.

Phillip Byrd, 39, is charged with first-degree intentional homicide for the Feb. 23 death of Cheryl Gilberg. He made an initial court appearance in Dane County on Thursday. Byrd was a previous boyfriend of Gilberg, police said.

A criminal complaint states that Byrd told detectives that the incident started in her home when Gilberg pointed a gun at him, ordered him to his knees and put a gun in his mouth. He said he was able to knock her hand away and began wrestling with Gilberg and knocked her onto a bed while he tried to get the gun out of her hand. He told detectives that he was able to knock the gun out of her hand, and he tackled her as she retrieved the gun.

Byrd said that while on the floor he was able to get on top of her and hit her again. He told detectives he put a pillow over her face to restrict her vision and was trying to get her finger out of the trigger guard when the gun fired into the pillow. He said it went off again as he continued to try to wrestle the gun out of her hand. He said she didn’t pull the trigger.

Byrd said he thought she was still alive when he left the scene.

According to the complaint, Byrd was driving back to Janesville and stopped to throw Gilberg’s gun into a wooded area along Highway 14.

Byrd was arrested the next day on unrelated charges and told detectives, “I want every ramification that gotta happen to me to happen and I won’t resist and I won’t fight it because no matter what happens, it still doesn’t bring her back.” He also expressed remorse for not being able to apologize to Gilberg.

Police said a prescription amphetamine pill bottle prescribed to Gilberg was found alongside prescriptions belonging to Byrd during a search of his home.

The state argued for high bail, and called Byrd a flight risk.

“He’s a union steel worker and information on his phone suggests he has contacts in Georgia, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Nebraska and Iowa,” Attorney Corey Stephan said. “Basically he goes anywhere in the country he can to follow jobs for his union steel working contracts.”

Byrd is being held on a cash bond of $300,000. He’s scheduled to appear in court on April 21 for a status conference.

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