Friday, February 10, 2012

Bellwood, IL: Bellwood man guilty of killing girlfriend in 2009

Fertamina Smith’s daughter grew frantic after her mother didn’t come home one Sunday night, and called and texted her father to see if he knew anything.

After all, it was her father, Charles Randle, who’d picked Smith up the morning of April 5, 2009, after she asked her longtime boyfriend for a ride to church.

Only Smith, 35, already was dead by the time her daughter called Randle, Cook County prosecutors told jurors Friday, her body stuffed into the plastic-lined trunk of Randle’s car, which he later abandoned on Chicago’s South Side.

He’d killed her, prosecutors said, after picking her up from her Bellwood home.

A jury agreed, finding Randle guilty Friday evening of first-degree murder after less than two hours of deliberations. Randle, who didn’t testify during the trial, listened to the verdict in the same pose he’d heard arguments: hands folded out in front, his face emotionless.

Smith’s family also sat on crowded benches quietly, as the judge had instructed them. Then her daughter began to cry.

Randle kept telling his daughter he didn’t know where her mom was, Assistant State’s Attorney Jamie Santini said in closing arguments at the Cook County courthouse in Maywood.

The next morning, he bought a new truck, got its oil changed and hit the road for Georgia until turning himself in to Chicago Police two days later.

He even used Smith’s cell phone to text their daughter to calm her down, writing, “I just need a break,” Santini said.

“That’s what you do when you commit murder,” Santini said.

Assistant Public Defender K. S. Galhotra asked jurors to consider what they didn’t see that proves the shooting — a single bullet through Smith’s chest that severed her aorta — wasn’t intentional.

She had no defensive wounds, she’d been shot only once, she hadn’t been bound or mutilated and the abandoned car still had its license plates.

And Randle wrote a letter to Smith’s sister four months after Smith was killed, apologizing for shooting her but insisting it was an accident.

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