A California man has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for killing his special-needs roommate with a hammer and hiding her body in a wall for six years.
Randolph Garbuttt, 47, from Los Angeles, last month pleaded no contest to a single count of felony voluntary manslaughter in the 2009 slaying of 31-year-old Raven Joy Campbell.
On July 2, 2015, Campbell’s body was removed from behind a wall at the home she shared with Garbutt in the 26800 block of Western Avenue in Lomita after neighbors complained of a foul smell.
Campbell, who had a son, had been missing since June 2009, reported The Daily Breeze.
An autopsy determined that the woman, who was developmentally disabled, died of blunt force trauma to the head, and officials later said she was bludgeoned with a hammer.
Garbutt’s ex-girlfriend and the mother of his child, Myesha Smith, testifying under immunity during a preliminary hearing, said the man told her he killed Campbell because ‘God wanted her.’
After wrapping Cmapbell’s body in a blanket and a sheet of plastic, he enlisted Smith’s help to entomb the victim in a makeshift grave he made by cutting a hole in a closet wall and digging under the floor.
Her whereabouts remained unknown until Campbell’s family received an anonymous tip in June 2015 leading police to her and Garbutt’s former apartment at the Harbor Hills housing project.
Garbutt was arrested in connection to Campbell’s death seven months later.
The man told police Campbell had fallen and hurt her head after returning home one day in June 2009, and that he suffocated her with a plastic bag because he feared he would be blamed for her injuries.
The man was tried for Campbell’s killing in October 2018, but a judge presiding over the case declare a mistrial over a report concerning two heretofore unknown witnesses, which emerged while testimony was under way.
Garbutt’s public defender told a jury it was Myesha Smith, the defendant’s ex-girlfriend, who killed Campbell, and that the man took the blame so that their child would not grow up without a mother.
Police found Smith to be in possession of the victim’s personal property, including her identification card, a month after Campbell’s disappearance, but she was never prosecuted for a crime and was ultimately granted immunity in exchange for her testimony against Garbutt.
Garbutt has been jailed since February 2016 and has received four years’ worth of credit for time served.
Some of the victim’s family members decried Garbutt’s sentence as too short and inadequate, given the heinous nature of the crime.
‘The irony is this man will probably only do about as much time as she was while she was in the wall,’ Raven Campbell’s sister Cynthia Campbell Kemp said in court. ‘The punishment is not just, but we’re just going to have to accept it.’
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Snejana Farberov