Chicago man sentenced to life in prison without parole for 2007 murder of sales rep
03/10/2016 12:49 pm PST
Pharmaceutical sales representative Nailah Franklin goes missing in Chicago in September 2007. Her family became concerned because she had just sent them a very troubling email about a person she felt was stalking her.
Nailah Franklin seemed to have it all: A great job as a sales rep, a trendy Chicago loft and a real-estate investor boyfriend who drove a Bentley.
Nailah had dated Reginald Potts Jr., unaware he had been convicted of the aggravated battery of a police officer.
According to court documents when Nailah found out, Potts allegedly got mad, leaving a voicemail saying: "I will have you erased."
She responded: "You are not going to bully me. You are messing with the wrong woman."
Not long after that she vanished.
A week and a half later, Nailah's decomposed and naked body was found strangled in a field behind a shuttered video store.
Police didn't have far to look for the suspect: Reginald Potts Jr. Potts was charged with first-degree murder.
"This case is another example of domestic violence," Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said. "This defendant is the classic abuser. Someone who exhibits control."
At his trial prosecutors said Potts stalked Nailah in the days before her murder. Detectives found surveillance video of them in the hallway of her building, evidence they said that shows he was the last person seen with her. Prosecutors say he ambushed her as she walked to her car.
The day she disappeared both their cellphones "pinged" the same tower near her condo, and later they both pinged a tower near where her body was found.
The assistant state's attorney said Potts even sent fake texts from Nailah's phone to friends to make them think she was still alive.
Potts's attorney called the evidence circumstantial, saying there was no physical evidence tying him to the killing. A jury disagreed. After two hours of deliberation, Potts was found guilty.
At the sentencing phase, a parade of witnesses testified Potts was a violent man. The maintenance man at his apartment claimed he once saw Potts hit a woman.
A Highland Park police officer who once investigated Potts in an auto-theft case claimed Potts called his home and threatened to kill him.
Nailah's sister read an emotional victim's impact statement.
In a dramatic move, Potts spoke out in his own defense. "I did not stalk Nailah. I did not murder Nailah. Period," he said.
After a week of hearing testimony, on March 8, the judge pronounced the sentence: "I hereby sentence you to spend the rest of your life in the Illinois Department of Corrections without the possibility of parole."