Conviction Overturned in Buttocks Injection Death

     (CN) – A Mississippi appeals court reversed the manslaughter conviction of an Atlanta model who helped an acquaintance get silicone buttock injections that later killed her.
     A jury convicted Natasha Orlantha Stewart also known as Pebbelz Da Model of culpable-negligence manslaughter in the death of Karima Gordon, a young woman she’d met through social media.
     Prior to her conviction, Stewart was an “urban” model with noteworthy “enhanced” buttocks. A Google search of her name returns results that describe her as “the girl who got booty” and claim she’s got “more booty than Kardashian.”
     As recounted in court documents, Gordon first contacted Stewart via social media in 2010, said she really liked Stewart’s enhanced buttocks, and asked who had done the work.
     In February 2012, two years and several exchanged messages later, Stewart invited Gordon and her friend, identified only as Anglean, to a party she was hosting in New York.
     After the party, Stewart gave Gordon the name and phone number of Tracey Garner, the individual who had performed her enhancements and who she believed to be a nurse.
     Gordon, who had not been happy with her previous buttock enhancement attempts, gave Stewart $200, which the model has always maintained was a gift, not a payment.
     Stewart then arranged an appointment with Garner for the two women, and said she would meet them at Garner’s Jackson, Mississippi home.
     A month later, Gordon and Anglean travelled to Jackson from their homes in Atlanta.
     Stewart couldn’t meet them, but the two young women went ahead with their appointment with Garner.
     After talking with Garner, Anglean decided she did not want to go through with the injections, but she waited two hours while Gordon had her buttocks injected with silicone.
     During the drive back to Atlanta, Gordon began to have difficulty breathing, court documents say.
     When they reached Atlanta, Gordon went to a hospital emergency room, but did not tell anyone she had been injected with silicone.
     The hospital sent her home with an antibiotic.
     Two days later, Gordon was back in the emergency room, and this time, she told doctors she’d received silicone injections.
     She was admitted to the hospital for further treatment, but died five days later.
     Gordon’s autopsy said her death was due to an “adult respiratory distress syndrome with lipoid pulmonary embolization due to massive soft tissue injection with a non-pharmaceutical lipoid substance.”
     At trial, the forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy testified that the fatal substance in question was silicone.
     Stewart was charged in Gordon’s death and a jury in Hinds County, Mississippi found her guilty of both culpable-negligence manslaughter and conspiracy to commit culpable-negligence manslaughter.
     She was sentenced to 15 years on the manslaughter conviction, with eight years suspended and seven to serve, followed by three years of supervised probation.
     She also received a five-year sentence on the conspiracy conviction, which was also to be followed by three years of supervised probation.
     Both sentences were to be served concurrently.
     Stewart filed a motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict, which was granted in regard to the manslaughter conviction, but denied in regard to her conspiracy conviction.
     Stewart then appealed the latter decision, arguing the court erred in its reasoning, and that in any case her convictions violated her due process rights.
     On review, the Mississippi Court of Appeals determined Stewart’s conspiracy conviction could not stand.
     As it considered the facts of the case as recounted at trial, it noted that Stewart had testified Garner had performed more than 20 buttock enhancement procedures on her without any health-related problems.
     She also stated that she went to Garner because she believed her to be a nurse and would never have received treatments from her let alone recommend her services if she knew Garner was only a cook at a nursing home who did not have any medical training.
     Writing for the court, Judge David Ishee said Stewart’s involvement did not equate to, “conscious and wanton or reckless disregard of the probabilities of fatal consequences to others as the result of willful creation of unreasonable risk.”
     He went on to note that Stewart did not encourage Gordon or help Garner in administering the injections, and that Gordon willingly had her buttocks injected after asking for a referral.
     “In other words, Karima had a choice,” Ishee wrote.
     Ishee then went on to address a dissent written by Justice Virginia Carlton, who believed Stewart aided in the illegal practice of medicine.
     Ishee held the Stewart had no reason to think that the buttock enhancement could cause Gordon’s death, nor did she encourage Garner to do the illegal buttock enhancement.
     “A referral does not create a conspiracy, nor is it a criminal act to make a referral,” he wrote. “Moreover, the fact that Garner performed an illegal service does not render Garner’s ‘patient’ a criminal by association.”
     “Karima’s death is a tragic occurrence,” Ishee wrote, “The act of injecting a non-pharmaceutical substance into someone under the pretense of being a nurse is no doubt heinous. Garner did this. Stewart’s actions, on the other hand, were not a reckless act or done with wanton disregard for human life.”
     Representatives of the parties did not respond to requests for comment.

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