Suspect in death of man who had sex on Vegas ferris wheel expected in court
HOUSTON – An accused killer is due in court Wednesday morning.
Bryant Christopher Watts, 28, is expected to be handed new charges in the death of Phillip Panzica.
Initially, two men were charged with Panzica's death, one of them was cleared of all charges.
The details give an added twist to a bizarre chain of events in the final month of Phillip Frank Panzica III's life.
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 said 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.
That companion is not the same woman who was with Panzica on the night he was killed.
According to court documents, a woman claiming to be Panzica's fiancee works at Vivid Gentlemen's Club.
She 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 then pulled Panzica's body out of the car and left him in the roadway.
"For him to die like he did-- nobody deserves to die like that. Nobody deserves to die like that," Wolfgang Erbstrosser, Panzica's friend, said Monday.
Erbstrosser said Panzica had been staying with him the last week, and was scheduled to leave town for work.
"He does contract work on windmills, he would have been gone six months," Erbstrosser said.
The two men made the woman get out of the vehicle, then drove off with her money and other belongings.
The woman flagged down a METRO bus for help. Police listed her black Kia Sorrento as stolen.
Several days later, a police officer spotted the Kia speeding about 100 mph, and a chase began. An officer observed what appeared to be a black firearm thrown from the passenger side of the vehicle, according to court documents.
The chase eventually ended in Concho County.
As officers were giving Miranda warnings and approaching the vehicle, Watts allegedly admitted to robbing the woman and her boyfriend of her vehicle. Officers noted that he also said he was the shooter, and it was captured on video.
Watts had a large amount of cash with him when he was taken into custody.
Investigators found blood on the inside of the car, which they said is consistent with the description of how Panzica was killed.
A photo lineup was presented and Watts was identified as "Shoe Shine's Brother," the man who shot Panzica.
"At the end of the day, you're a good person or a bad person and he was a good person," Erbstrosser said.