Charlotte County cold case murder trial begins

PUNTA GORDA, Fla.- The trial of an accused murderer is underway.

Phillip Barr is charged with killing 19-year-old Tara Sidarovich in Charlotte County back in 2001.

Sidarovich was at home alone the morning of Oct. 1, waiting for septic workers when she vanished. Barr was one of those septic workers.

Testimony in the courtroom on Tuesday was emotional.

“She was kind and funny, and would do anything for anyone you asked her.”

Staring at her daughter’s picture, Sharon McPhillips was overcome with emotion on the stand. Through tears, McPhillips told the jury Tuesday, the last time she saw her daughter, on Oct. 1, 2001. She was sleeping in her bed.

Sidarovich’s remains were found in the woods 315 days after her disappearance.

The state says suspect Phillip Barr admitted to being at the house for work the day the teenager disappeared. But when questioned, he said he did not go inside of the home.

The state says that’s where the lies started. They have witnesses who say Barr was inside the home, and for some reason, parked his truck right outside the front door that day.

“For what purpose was that truck in the front yard in the middle of the day?” said Assistant State Attorney Daniel Feinberg.

They say Barr also lied about what he wore that day, and later asked his girlfriend, the day Sidarovich went missing, how to get rid of DNA.

“He also asked her, and we believe she’ll testify too, how to get rid of a body?” said Feinberg.

Meanwhile, the defense claimed investigators “lost their way” and targeted Barr, despite evidence pointing to other suspects.

“Not one witness has given the same story to police, meaning they change their story every time they talk to police,” said defense attorney Mark DeSisto.

Altogether four witnesses were called to the stand Tuesday, including Sidarovich’s sister and stepfather, who said they came home late afternoon on Oct. 1, to find the front door unlocked and the teenager’s belongings still inside, which was unlike her.

The trial is expected to last two weeks.

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