|Remembered as "not just a star, but a superstar"|
Tomorrow the jurors will hear closing arguments. Then they will begin to deliberate.
They will consider the cell phone evidence -- the threatening text messages he sent her, the defiant ones she sent in response, and the telltale "pings" that place their cell phones in the same vicinity on the day she died. Then there's the surveillance evidence -- the camera in the garage of her condo building shows them leaving together on the day she disappeared. Then there's his pattern of abusive behavior -- placing his hands on the necks of two other women in his life, relevant since Nailah's cause of death was asphyxiation.* Then there's the crime scene evidence -- her body was discovered in a vacant lot next to a business owned by the accused's brother-in-law, and her abandoned car was found just 10 minutes away. And now, his shifting alibis.
Then finally, after more than eight years, there will be a verdict. Most Illinois murder cases take two years to go from arrest to trial. This one took so long because the accused kept changing attorneys -- at one point insisting he could defend himself -- and complicating matters by committing literally hundreds of serious infractions from behind bars.
In 2007, when he was arrested, Illinois still had the death penalty. Now, as the jury hears closing arguments, it has been abolished.
*Though, to be fair, there is no evidence that she was strangled. Decomposition makes positive determination impossible.