A Cook County found Reginald Potts guilty of murdering Nailah Franklin on Tuesday evening.
Potts, 38, is charged with killing Franklin, a 28-year-old pharmaceutical rep, in September 2007. The pair had briefly dated, and prosecutors claim Potts stalked, threatened and harassed Franklin in the weeks prior to her disappearance and death.
During closing remarks Tuesday morning, Assistant State’s Attorney Mark Shlifka alleged Potts left Franklin a voicemail on Sept. 7, 2007, threatening, “I will erase your a–. You will disappear.”
Franklin was last seen alive on Sept. 18, 2007, standing with Potts inside her University Village condo building, according to court testimony. She was reported missing on Sept. 19, and her body was found dumped in a wooded area behind Potts’ brother-in-law’s video store in suburban Calumet City on Sept. 27, 2007.
Franklin was naked and badly decomposed, and could only be identified by dental records. Just as Potts promised, Shlifka said, she had been “erased and stuffed into the trunk of her car.”
Defense attorneys were quick to point out that no one knows exactly what happened to Franklin. There’s no DNA or fingerprint evidence linking Potts to the murder, and he has long maintained his innocence.
The state’s case “completely depends on forced conclusions,” Assistant Public Defender Crystal Marchigiani said during her closing remarks. “There is absolutely no physical evidence linking Reginald Potts to the murder of Nailah Franklin.”
Marchigiani said the case against her client was merely circumstantial.
Assistant State’s Attorney Maria McCarthy argued during her rebuttal that “circumstantial evidence alone is enough to convict someone.” She used the example of snow: If snow covers the ground in the morning, one can assume it snowed overnight. A person doesn’t need to see snow falling to know it happened, she said.
During the 10-day trial, prosecutors painted Potts as arrogant and narcissistic. They laid out for jurors his past history of domestic violence with other women, and shared derogatory emails and voicemails he sent Franklin. Witnesses said Potts often skulked near Franklin’s home.
According to court testimony, Franklin became upset when she learned Potts lied about seeing multiple women and having children. Franklin emailed several people a news article about Potts’ past legal woes. In retaliation, Potts threatened to release a sex tape he had allegedly made with Franklin.
Franklin had been trying to get a restraining order against Potts, Shlifka said, and told a friend, “If I go missing, he did it.”
Prosecutors shared an email Franklin sent to Potts on Sept. 10: “You are crazy,” she wrote. “You hit women. You are extremely dangerous. You are a bully, but you are not going to bully me. You’re messing with the wrong chick this time.”
Prosecutors claim Potts murdered Franklin on Sept. 18 and dumped her body in Calumet City later that day. To cover his tracks, Potts held on to Franklin’s cell phone and texted responses to any incoming texts or voicemails “to keep Nailah alive in everyone else’s mind,” Shlifka said.
Source: DNA Info Chicago | Erica Demarest