Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Now we wait

Remembered as "not just a star, but a superstar"
The last few witnesses have testified in the trial of Nailah Franklin's accused killer. His ex-wife and a former girlfriend described the physical abuse they suffered at his hands. A friend of his testified that they were together in Chicago all day, running errands, on the day Ms. Franklin went missing, and therefore he couldn't be dumping her body and car in Indiana. (Never mind that last week, he had a different alibi.) The accused chose not to take the stand in his own defense.

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.

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