Men charged in death of man arrested for sex on Ferris wheel held without bond

HOUSTON – Two men accused of killing a man outside a strip club in southwest Houston are back in Harris County and appeared before a judge Thursday morning.  


Aaron Jones and Bryant Watts were arrested in Menerd County after escaping following the deadly shooting.

Investigators said Jones and Watts had lots of cash on them when they were arrested, which then led to a confession.


Both men are charged with capital murder in the death of Phillip Panzica. Jones and Watts were previously held in the Menerd County jail. 


Police said Jones and Watts shot and killed Phillip Panzica inside a car, while he was picking up his fiancee, from work. 


According to court documents, the woman, who works at Vivid Gentlemen's Club, told investigators that on March 19, she had made $1,000 in tips at the strip club.  She said when she got off work, Panzica was hanging out with a man she knew as "Shoe Shine Mike."

The woman said they had also recently made $4,000 from "Inside Edition," and she believes Panzica told "Mike" about the earnings.

The woman said "Mike" approached her in the parking lot and walked with her to her car, where Panzica was waiting. "Mike" also carried her red Coach bag, which was unzipped, and she believes he saw the cash she had inside it.

The woman said when they got to the car, "Mike" and his brother, who she knew as "Shoe Shine's brother," got into the back seat. 

The woman said she had been invited to a hotel by a club patron, and the four of them began heading to the room.

Before they got there, the patron changed his or her mind, so the four decided to drive to an after-hours club.

The woman said "Mike" gave her his cellphone so that she could use the GPS navigation to direct them to the location.

The woman said as they neared Richmond and Jeanetta, she heard the brother tell Panzica, "You need to come clean."

She said he then pulled out a gun and shot Panzica at least five times. The two men made the woman get out of the vehicle, then drove off with her money and other belongings.

Both Jones and Watts were ordered Thursday to be held without bond.

Panzica, 27, was arrested on Feb. 5 after video recorded him having sex in public during a 30-minute ride in a glass-enclosed cabin on the "High Roller" Ferris wheel 550 feet above the Las Vegas strip.  Police say surveillance cameras captured the act, security warned the couple to stop, and people in another car shot cellphone video.

Criminal charges were filed against Panzica and his companion, Chloe Scordianos.