'Black Madam' found guilty in fatal buttocks-enhancement case
PHILADELPHIA -- "Black Madam" Padge-Victoria Windslowe -- the 43-year-old West Philadelphia woman with a dizzying array of names, personas and professions -- was found guilty Monday by a jury in the 2011 death of a British dancer she injected wit...
PHILADELPHIA - "Black Madam" Padge-Victoria Windslowe - the 43-year-old West Philadelphia woman with a dizzying array of names, personas and professions - was found guilty Monday by a jury in the 2011 death of a British dancer she injected with liquid silicone in an illegal buttocks-enhancement procedure.
Windslowe, who testified for 2-1/2 days in her own defense, stood without apparent emotion - perfectly made-up and dressed in black-and-white - as the jury rejected her claim that she had safely done thousands of silicone injections since 1995.
The Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jury of six men and six women deliberated about four hours since getting the case late Friday before finding Windslowe guilty of third-degree murder in the Feb. 8, 2011, death of 20-year-old Claudia Aderotimi, who flew in from London for the procedure to be done in an airport-area hotel.
The jury also found Windslowe guilty of aggravated assault in the hospitalization of stripper Sherkeeia King, 23, after a February 2012 "pumping party" in East Germantown, and convicted her on two counts of possession of an instrument of a crime - the needles she used to inject industrial-grade silicone into her clients.
Windslowe's trial drew international attention, in part because Aderotimi was from London and because Windslowe claimed to have toured the United Kingdom and France performing procedures there.
Despite the fact that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned human injection of silicone liquid in 1991, the practice continues underground, especially among transgender people and women who cannot afford plastic surgery.
In January, a Santa Ana, Calif., woman died several weeks after getting injected at a "pumping party" there. A popular Brazilian model, Andressa Urach, was hospitalized earlier this month over continuing problems related to silicone injections she received, and at least three other prosecutions are pending in the United States and Canada involving silicone injection deaths.
"The hope is that other people will hear the stories of the victims who survived, will hear about the woman who died [Aderotimi] and will recognize how dangerous this procedure is," said Assistant District Attorney Bridget Kirn. "Even if someone promises they can do a procedure, they can't. This silicone is deadly."
Judge Rose Marie DeFino-Nastasi ordered a presentence and mental-health evaluation and set sentencing for June 11.
Kirn, who prosecuted the case with Carlos Vega, said Windslowe, who has been in custody since her arrest on Feb. 29, 2012, faces up to 70 years in prison.
"Considering the fact that we have a victim who will never come back and we have other women who have to live knowing their lungs are compromised, there's certainly a good argument for it," Kirn said.
Defense attorney David S. Rudenstein said he would consider an appeal. He told DeFino-Nastasi he would likely seek court funding for an independent psychiatric evaluation of Windslowe before sentencing.
Rudenstein had urged the jury to acquit Windslowe.
"You can conclude she was reckless, maybe, and you could conclude she was stupid for doing it," Rudenstein told jurors, urging them to acquit Windslowe because prosecutors had not proven she had the malice to support a guilty verdict.
Windslowe rejected a prosecution guilty plea offer and insisted the injections were safe and she knew what she was doing.
Actually, Windslowe claimed more than that: She said she counted celebrities among her clients, telling jurors, "I'm the best," and letting them know she was called "the Michelangelo of buttocks injections."
One former client after another testified in the trial, which began Feb. 19, that Windslowe called herself a "nurse-practitioner" who worked with a cosmetic surgeon.
Windslowe, who had been born a man named Forest Leon Gordon, told her clients she herself got silicone injections when she transitioned to a woman.
But on the witness stand, Windslowe was continually tripped-up in cross-examination by Vega.
The veteran homicide prosecutor focused on her penchant for different names and bogus driver's licenses and other identification and her careers as a prostitute and madam, master of buttocks enhancement, and aspiring Gothic hip-hop entertainer "Black Madam."
The jury on Monday asked to review an Internet advertisement for her "Body by Lillian" practice in which Windslowe called herself a "physician's assistant" and promoted Christmas and "Euro-tour" sales on buttocks injections using medical grade silicone.
But at trial, experts testified the liquid silicone found at Windslowe's home and samples taken from Aderotimi's body were all industrial grade, made to lubricate machinery. Consumer information packed with the silicone warned against injecting it into people.
The autopsy showed that silicone injected in Aderotimi's buttocks traveled through her bloodstream and lodged in her lungs, brain and liver with fatal results.
A year after Aderotimi's death, King, the woman Windslowe injected at the East Germantown "pumping party," was hospitalized, vomiting blood and gasping for air. Doctors found silicone in her heart and lungs and testified that both organs sustained permanent damage.
Medical experts testified that liquid silicone is no longer injected in cosmetic procedures because of its tendency to migrate through the body.
Windslowe acknowledged that she had no formal medical training but was taught to do buttocks injections by a nurse in Washington Heights in Upper Manhattan who injected her.
Windslowe told the jury she never heard of any problems before Aderotimi's death.
Prosecutors, however, focused on the fact that she continued doing injections although Aderotimi complained of chest pain during the procedure and died just hours later.
"She did it for money, pure and simple," said Kirn, who said Windslowe netted $200,000 to $600,000 in cash fees for her work over at least 16 years.
"She preyed on people who were uneducated, who were hoping to be beautiful and she tricked them and took advantage of them," Vega added.