CHICAGO (STMW) - Reginald Potts Jr. was found guilty Tuesday of killing Nailah Franklin in 2007 soon after she broke off their relationship.
A Cook County jury quickly returned the guilty verdict Tuesday, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.
Potts was accused of ambushing Franklin, a 28-year-old pharmaceutical rep, asphyxiating her and dumping her body in a secluded area behind his brother-in-law’s vacant video store in Calumet City.
Days before Franklin disappeared, she told a friend that if she ever went missing, her disgruntled former beau, Reginald Potts, “did it.”
In closing arguments, Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Mark Shlifka told jurors that Potts stalked, surveilled and sneaked around Franklin’s University Village condo for two days before she was last seen alive with Potts on the building’s security cameras at 1:10 p.m. on Sept. 18, 2007.
Potts was the “hunter” and Franklin was the “hunted” the minute she was “ready to put him out to pasture” and told him she was tired of being a “token in his roulette wheel of sexual partners,” Shlifka said.
The pharmaceutical rep’s badly decomposed was discovered nine days later. Her car turned up in Hammond, Indiana, roughly a block away from where Potts allegedly had his friend pick him up the day of the brutal murder.
Franklin’s “beautiful smile was erased and replaced by a maggot-infested carcass left to rot in the late summer sun,” Shlifka said.
Potts was not only angry because Franklin decided to “move on” from their casual relationship, but he also was upset because she had told her friends about his criminal past and shared stories about him with another one of his ex-girlfriends, Shlifka and his partner Maria McCarthy said.
Potts, who could be heard in a voice mail message to Franklin bragging about his wealth and his ability to attract women, didn’t want his “arrogant and narcissistic” life to spiral out of control, so he “erased” Franklin as he had promised her in a chilling phone message, Shlifka said.
Potts’ assistant public defenders maintained his innocence during closing arguments Tuesday, stressing there was no physical evidence proving their client murdered Franklin.
Defense attorney Crystal Marchigiani also pointed out that Potts was only visiting Franklin’s residence because she wasn’t interested in ending the relationship and was only creating “drama.”
There was “no hostility, arguments” or sign of a physical altercation when Potts and Franklin appear on surveillance footage, Marchigiani told jurors.
While Potts’ ex-wife and an ex-girlfriend testified that he was violent toward them and they were granted restraining orders, the relationship he had with Franklin was “never abusive,” Marchigiani said.
But Potts was growing increasingly irate in his emails and phone calls to Franklin that she was telling friends she was frightened and panicky, prosecutors said.
She had alerted her building management about Potts and had even called police, Shlifka said.
Potts may “have thought he was the smartest person in the room” when he was interrogated by detectives. But what he didn’t know was that cellphone records would show his and Franklin’s phone pinging off the same towers in key locations at hours linked to the crime, McCarthy said.
That evidence, Shlifka said, “buries” 39-year-old Potts, who told authorities “lie after lie.”
Potts texted Franklin’s friends, her new lawyer boyfriend and co-workers with her phone and used it to dial 911, because he was “trying to keep her alive in everyone else’s minds,” Shlifka said.
Potts, a real estate investor, was targeted by police simply because every piece of evidence was “a carefully sharpened dart” pointing at him, Shlifka said.
Franklin was a “smart, classy” young woman who had the “world at her tail” when Potts snuffed out her life, McCarthy said toward the end of the four-hour-plus closing arguments.
“This case isn’t about love. This case isn’t about, ‘If I can’t have you, no one will,'” McCarthy said.
“Nailah Franklin didn’t die because she dated Reginald Potts. Nailah Franklin didn’t die because she wanted to break up with Reginald Potts. Nailah Franklin died because she stood up to Reginald Potts.”