Was ‘Black Madam’ reckless or stupid? Lawyers leave it up to jury in buttocks injection case

Recklessness.

That word sits at the center of “Black Madam” Padge Victoria Windslowe’s murder trial, which wrapped up late Friday afternoon after more than a week’s worth of testimony. 

Windslowe, 45, is accused of killing a British break-dancer and nearly killing an exotic dancer after both voluntarily had liquid silicone injected into their buttocks for cosmetic purposes.

Doctors testified that both women landed in the hospital after the silicone migrated via the bloodstream from their buttocks to their lungs.

During his closing, defense attorney David Rudenstein argued that his client never intended to harm any of her clients – quite the opposite.

“My client is not a murderer,” he said.

Over the course of an hour, Rudenstein painted a picture of a businesswoman who did – and wanted to do – right by the women she injected. How else, he argued, could Windslowe have racked up so many clients for nearly two decades before her arrest in 2012?

“If you’re good at what you do, you want referrals. And if you’re good at what you do, you get referrals,” said Rudenstein. “Success bred success.”

Rudenstein said Windslowe, who admitted to having no professional medical training, thought what she was doing was safe, including her use of industrial-grade silicone, a product used in deodorants and suntan lotion.

The siliicone, he said, was only labeled as food grade and came with no warnings about them being poisonous or deadly.

Windslowe testified she never knew about any of her clients having medical complications from being injected, let alone dying.

Claudia Aderotimi, the break-dancer, was a different story. She knew about her death.

Still, in the weeks afterwards, Rudenstein said Windslowe figured something other than the injections alone had killed the 20-year-old because she had not been arrested.

“We can’t conclude that she was reckless,” said Rudenstein. “You might want to conclude that she was stupid.”

That, he said, is not enough to convict her of third-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter or aggravated assault.

During her closing, Assistant District Attorney Bridget Kirn argued the opposite.

Kirn said Windslowe was well aware of the harm she was inflicting and worked hard to keep her identity and location a mystery.

The fake driver’s license, the fake passport, the myriad credit and debit cards with different names – all of it was used to keep herself hidden, she said.

“Every time someone gets hurt, she becomes someone new,” said Kirn.

And someone, she argued, who didn’t care about the well-being of her clients, typically “vulnerable” young women “literally dying to be beautiful.”

Kirn said Windslowe ignored the paperwork that came with each shipment of silicone she received over the years.

The hours before Aderotimi’s death, she said, were more telling.

“She doesn’t call 911. She doesn’t stay with her,” said Kirn.

Windslowe’s decision to inject Sherkeeia King, the exotic dancer, inside an East Germantown home, perhaps even more so.

“You’d think that knowing that it was her hand, her needle … that she would stop – that she wouldn’t risk the life of another young girl,” said Kirn.

“Responsibility begins and ends with the defendant.”

If convicted, Windslowe could face up to 44 to 88 years behind bars.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.