Mario Lynn Phillips could be sentenced to die if jurors decide he planned the killings.

Phillips is accused of killing and robbing Eddie Ryals, Carl “C.J.” Justice Jr., Joseph Allen Harden and Daryl Hobson, and of trying to kill Amanda Cooke Varner on Dec. 19, 2003.

Two other people, Sean Maurice Ray and Renee Yvette McLaughlin, also are linked to the murders, but neither has gone to trial. Prosecutors say the three shot, stabbed and robbed the group in Ryals’ home in Carolina Lakes, a mobile home park in Moore County.

Prosecutors said Phillips and Ray set fire to Ryals’ house after the shootings.

On Tuesday, Phillips’ lawyers argued that Phillips was intoxicated with drugs and alcohol when he shot Ryals, Justice, Harden, Hobson and Varner. Phillips, they argued, suffered from mental illnesses and struggled to deal with childhood traumas. Phillips’ brother, Jordan Phillips, had been shot in the head the same day Phillips shot the five in Carolina Lakes. His lawyers said the stress of his brother being shot left Phillips unable to consider the consequences of his actions.

“Those are the things that crossed that day,” said Richard Roose, one of Phillips’ defense lawyers. “He was in a state of rage.”

Roose and Bruce Cunningham, who is Phillips’ lead defense lawyer, argued that the evidence presented during Phillips’ trial was not enough to prove Phillips went to Ryals’ house to purposefully kill anyone.

Prosecutors argued that Phillips did go to the house to kill Ryals. They said he tucked a gun inside his pants, collected extra ammunition and drove from Fayetteville to Ryals’ house in Moore County. Though Ray and McLaughlin were there during the attacks and Ray is accused of stabbing the five and setting the house on fire, prosecutors described Phillips as the ringleader and said he orchestrated the murders.

Even if Phillips did not go to the house to kill anyone, prosecutors argued, the attacks lasted about an hour – enough time for him to decide whether to stop the killings or continue.

Prosecutors showed photographs of the men who were killed and read from a statement Varner wrote from her hospital bed in 2003.

Maureen Krueger, Moore County district attorney, said if Phillips had snapped and been unable to control his actions, he would have killed Ray and McLaughlin, too.

Phillips, she said, “decided and debated who was going to live and who was going to die.”

Jurors are scheduled to return to court today to start deliberating their verdict.