A 38-year-old man told his wife about robbing and killing an older man for money and jewelry, an Omaha police detective testified Monday.

After Monday’s hearing in Douglas County Court, Phillip Figures was ordered to stand trial on a first-degree murder charge.

His attorney, J. Robert Black, argued that evidence from Figures’ wife was protected under husband-wife privilege. But prosecutor Jim Masteller noted that the privilege can’t be claimed in a violent crime. Judge Derek Vaughn agreed.

Frederick Green, 57, was found dead in the basement of his house near 35th Street and Newport Avenue on July 15 by a woman who also lived in the home, Detective Wendi Dye said.

Green suffered four gunshot wounds — to his back, head, neck and knee, according to an autopsy.

The woman who lived with Green had left to give plasma while Green stayed home, Dye said. He was eating a sandwich and chips in the living room. When the woman returned, two of their friends were eating lunch on the porch, thinking that no one was home.

The woman noticed that her bedroom drawers had been ransacked, then searched the home and found Green downstairs. A few hundred dollars was missing from the drawers, and Green was without his gold necklace, which had a ring looped on the chain, Dye said.

Eleven days later, a woman went to the Papillion Police Department to report that her husband had threatened her and her daughter with a gun, Dye testified. The woman brought a necklace with a ring looped on it and told police she had information about a homicide.

The woman later told Omaha police that her husband, Figures, left their home on July 15 wearing pants and a thermal shirt. When she asked why he was wearing heavy clothing in the middle of summer, Figures told her that he was going to rob a man with the help of another man.

When he returned, Figures told his wife that Green was dead, Dye said, and told her what happened at the home.

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Figures and the other man went to Green’s house, Dye said. Green was talking on the phone to the man’s sister, who is in jail on drug charges, Dye said. The man started to assault Green and pushed him to the basement, where he shot him in the leg. The man said Green had to be killed because he would tell police who robbed and shot him.

After Green was shot in the head, the men took Green’s necklace and the cash in the bedroom drawers, Figures’ wife told police. The man let Figures keep the necklace because the man owed Figures money, and Figures buried it in his backyard under a trash can, Dye testified.

When police spoke to Figures, he told them the necklace was given to him by “the killer,” Dye said.

After they obtained a search warrant, police searched the home of the man alleged to have been with Figures. They recovered clothes and cellphones, Dye said, but that evidence is still being processed.

The other man has not been charged in connection with the slaying.

Dye said the account of Figures’ wife is the only evidence police have that Figures was at Green’s house. Figures is being held without bail.

Alia Conley covers breaking news, crime, crime trends, the Omaha Police Department and initial court hearings. Follow her on Twitter @aliavalentine. Phone: 402-444-1068.

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