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Commonwealth v. Windslowe

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

March 28, 2017


         Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence June 11, 2015 In the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Criminal Division at No(s): CP-51-CR-0005870-2012, CP-51-CR-0012090-2012.

          BEFORE: SHOGAN, OTT and STEVENS, P.J.E.[*]


          STEVENS, P.J.E.

         Appellant Padge Victoria Windslowe (a/k/a Page V. Gordon) appeals the judgment of sentence entered after a jury convicted Appellant of third-degree murder, aggravated assault, and possessing instruments of crime.[1]Appellant challenges the sufficiency and weight of the evidence, claims the trial court abused its discretion in admitting certain evidence, and contends the trial court should have declared a mistrial. We affirm.

         Appellant was charged with the murder of Claudia Aderotimi and the aggravated assault of Sherkeeia King, two women who were hospitalized after hiring Appellant to perform an illicit cosmetic procedure in which Appellant injected silicone into their buttocks. To entice the victims, Appellant falsely advertised herself as a medical professional trained to perform a buttocks enhancement procedure accepted by the medical community as safe and effective. While King sustained permanent damage to her lungs, heart, and buttocks, Aderotimi did not survive.

         After Appellant's jury trial commenced on February 19, 2016, the prosecution presented several days of testimony to develop its case. We summarize the relevant details of this extensive factual background.

         Death of Claudia Aderotimi

         The Commonwealth's case centered on the untimely death of Aderotimi, a twenty-year old British woman, who was rushed for emergency care on the eve of February 7, 2011. Aderotimi passed away just hours later at 1:32 a.m. on February 8, 2011, at Mercy Philadelphia Hospital. Dr. Fredrick Hellman, Delaware County Chief Medical Examiner, performed Aderotimi's autopsy and observed numerous injection sites in her buttocks that were leaking clear, thick fluid. He discovered silicone in Aderotimi's blood, stomach, urine, liver, lung tissue, and brain tissue. As a result, Dr. Hellman concluded Aderotimi's cause of death was a pulmonary embolism caused by silicone injections into the buttocks and opined that her manner of death was homicide.

         The prosecution's expert in plastic surgery, Dr. Robert Noone, agreed with the medical examiner's conclusion that Aderotimi died from a massive pulmonary embolism, which occurred when the silicone injections entered Aderotimi's blood stream, traveled to the lungs, and stopped Aderotimi's heart. Stressing that the injection of silicone is not an acceptable medical procedure to enlarge a patient's buttocks, Dr. Noone clarified that there are only three approved methods of buttocks sculpting; reshaping the buttocks with the patient's own tissue; aspirating the patient's abdomen fat, purifying the fat, and injecting the fat into the buttocks; or inserting a prefabricated buttocks implant that is similar to a breast implant. However, Dr. Noone stressed that these procedures must be performed under anesthesia by accredited physicians in accredited medical facilities.[2]

         Scheffee Wilson and Theresa Gyamfi testified that they witnessed Appellant give Aderotimi silicone injections into her buttocks on February 7, 2011, just hours before Aderotimi's death. By way of background, Wilson explained that she had met Appellant years earlier in June 2008 when she sought a "butt enhancement" for herself online by placing her contact information on a blog called "Topix"; Appellant responded under the names "Lillian" and "Body by Lillian, " and offered to perform silicone injections. N.T., 2/19/15, at 204-206. Appellant sent Ms. Wilson a detailed email with exclusive sale prices, which she asked that Ms. Wilson not share with anyone. She offered several packages of different products with varying effectiveness in which she promised to inject Ms. Wilson with volumes of 1500 to 2000 cc of silicone product, listing prices ranging from $1, 500.00 to $3, 700.00. In the email, Appellant represented that she was a physician's assistant with ten years' experience and guaranteed her results.

         After receiving several rounds of injections, Wilson became Appellant's "business partner, " finding Appellant customers in exchange for a referral fee. N.T., 2/19/15, at 224-30. Wilson could not contact Appellant directly; she would email her and Appellant would call back from a blocked number. Appellant utilized several email addresses:,, and Wilson indicated that Appellant implied she worked for a plastic surgeon when she talked about her experience and training. When Appellant was late to inject someone, she would say that "something happened at the clinic [or] the doctor's office." N.T., 2/19/15, at 217.

         Wilson arranged for Appellant to meet Aderotimi and Gyamfi, two British women interested in a buttocks enhancement procedure. Wilson directed Aderotimi and Gyamfi to book a hotel room in Philadelphia in November 2010. Appellant met the women in their hotel room, injected each of them with 1800 cc of silicone, closed the injection sites with Krazy Glue and cotton balls, and instructed them to lie on their stomachs for a few hours. The women each paid Appellant $1, 800.00 cash.

         Aderotimi and Gyamfi returned to Philadelphia for "touch up" injections and contacted Wilson to meet Appellant at the same hotel on February 7, 2011, the eve of Aderotimi's death. N.T., 2/26/15, at 74-81. Wilson also arranged to get a separate hotel room as she had developed a lump in her buttocks from the silicone injections; Appellant had been trying to fix the lump by injecting more silicone and attempting to withdraw some of the silicone she had previously injected.

         All four women gathered in the Aderotimi and Gyamfi's hotel room to begin the process. At the moment Appellant administered Aderotimi's final injection of silicone, Wilson and Gyamfi watched as Aderotimi's body "jolted." N.T., 2/19/15, at 243-45. Aderotimi seemed to recover and Appellant proceeded to inject Gyamfi and Wilson. Aderotimi began to complain of chest pains and asserted that it hurt to breathe ever since she received the last injection. When Aderotimi's pain brought her to tears, Appellant placed her hand on Aderotimi's chest and asked if this pressure hurt. Aderotimi explained again that she had pain every time she breathed in. After Appellant instructed Aderotimi to call an ambulance if the pain worsened, she "made haste" and left the hotel. N.T., 2/19/15, at 247-48.

         As Aderotimi's pain increased and she began gasping for air, Wilson called 9-1-1. Gyamfi told the emergency personnel that Aderotimi had just received silicone buttocks injections. Although the paramedics gave Aderotimi oxygen and transported her to the hospital, Aderotimi died several hours later. Wilson called Gyamfi to check on Aderotimi and learned of her death. Wilson attempted to contact Appellant, who returned her call from a blocked number. When Wilson told Appellant that Aderotimi had died, Appellant hung up the phone. Wilson never heard from Appellant again.

         Wilson cooperated with the detectives investigating Aderotimi's death and gave her account of her involvement with "Lillian." Although Wilson did not know Appellant's real identity, she knew Appellant recorded a rap music video under the moniker "Black Madam, " which was available on YouTube. Officers met with the video producers who identified Appellant as Padge-Victoria Windslowe and indicated that Appellant had two Pennsylvania addresses: one in Narberth and one in Ardmore.

         The investigating officers ran Appellant's Pennsylvania driver's license and confirmed that her 2002 Jaguar was registered at the same address in Narberth. The officers obtained a search warrant for both addresses, but Appellant was not present at either location and their eventual searches did not provide additional information on Appellant's whereabouts.

         Subsequent Injury of Sherkeeia King

         While Appellant initially avoided being arrested for Aderotimi's murder, she was eventually apprehended in connection with the police investigation into subsequent allegations of Appellant's assault of Sherkeeia King. In January 2011, King had initially met Appellant at a party hosted at the home of Sharnell Saunders, where several women arranged to get buttocks enhancement injections. Appellant identified herself as "Lillian, " a registered nurse in the cosmetology field trained to administer medical-grade silicone injections from Thailand. N.T., 2/23/15, at 114-16. Appellant injected the women with silicone, closed the injection sites with Krazy Glue and cotton balls, and instructed the women to drink plenty of water and to avoid sitting for an extended period of time. King paid Appellant $1, 000.00 for a "Dixie cup" of silicone. N.T., 2/23/15, at 117-22.

         After receiving these injections, King and Saunders learned of Aderotimi's death, which had been linked to illegal silicone buttocks injections. Saunders then attempted to contact Appellant to see if Appellant had administered Aderotimi's injections. Appellant did not return Saunders's calls and Appellant's phone number was eventually disconnected. About a year after Aderotimi's death, Saunders heard that Appellant had resurfaced and was back in business. Saunders obtained Appellant's new number and sought to schedule another injection round.

         Appellant called back from a blocked number, indicating she was willing to do injections for a former customer, and asserted she would explain the circumstances of Aderotimi's death in person. Appellant arranged to give silicone injections to both Saunders and King at Saunders's Philadelphia home on separate occasions. When questioned by both women about Aderotimi's death, Appellant alleged that Aderotimi was high on cocaine, died of an overdose, and did not follow Appellant's aftercare instructions. Both Saunders and King believed Appellant's explanation and paid her to perform additional silicone buttocks injections.

         King received her injections on February 19, 2012, at Saunders's home. As Appellant injected King with silicone, King felt "funny" and her leg began to shake. N.T., 2/23/15, at 128. Appellant told King her buttocks was stretching as she was getting more silicone in this round. After returning home, King's temperature reached 109 °F and she began coughing up blood. King was admitted to the Lankenau Hospital intensive care unit where she remained on a breathing machine for approximately twenty days. Dr. Arka Banerjee, King's supervising physician, testified that CAT scans showed King sustained heart and lung damage consistent with a silicone pulmonary embolism, which cannot be treated with surgery or medication. King was discharged from the hospital with level three heart disease and was required to use an oxygen tank for three additional weeks. King still has trouble breathing and cannot sit for an extended period of time.

         Saunders assisted homicide detectives in apprehending Appellant by setting up another appointment with Appellant at her home on February 29, 2012. In advance of this operation, the officers obtained a warrant for Appellant's arrest and a search warrant for Saunders's home. When Appellant arrived at Saunders' home on that day, she was placed under arrest. Officers recovered Appellant's pink bag, which contained various items used for illegal silicone injections: rubber gloves, Krazy Glue, markers, syringes, needles, cotton balls, trash bags, plastic cups, and bottles containing unknown clear substances.

         The detectives obtained a search warrant for the Nissan Sentra that Appellant drove to Saunders's home. Inside the car, the detectives found credit cards and mail in Appellant's name and in several of her aliases. The mail was directed to a home in Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania. Based on this information, the officers were able to obtain and serve a search warrant on Appellant's Chesterbrook home. Officers recovered a packing slip dated March 29, 2010, and a specification sheet from Neely Industries, Inc. for the product Xiameter, which is an industrial grade silicone used to manufacture auto wax, shampoo, lubricant, or damping fluid. In addition, officers confiscated additional injection supplies, four cell phones, and newspaper clippings reporting on Aderotimi's death.

         Dr. Adam Lanzarotta of the FDA Forensic Chemistry Center analyzed the clear liquids found at Appellant's Chesterbrook home and in her possession upon her arrest. All of the bottles tested positive for silicone and two of the bottles were labeled "not for injection via intravenously" and "Rx only." N.T., 2/24/15, at 102-108. Special Agent Michael Widenhouse, a criminal investigator for the FDA, testified that Xiameter is industrial silicone manufactured by Dow Corning and available through wholesalers like Neely Industries. Widenhouse explained that the FDA does not regulate Xiameter because it is not intended for human consumption.

         Prior Injury to Melissa Lisath

         At trial, the Commonwealth was permitted to introduce evidence that, prior to her injection of Aderotimi and King, Appellant also caused harm to Melissa Lisath with her silicone injections in 2008. Although Appellant was never charged with the assault of Lisath, the trial court agreed with the Commonwealth's assertion that these circumstances were admissible under Pennsylvania Rule of Evidence 404(b) to show Appellant had knowledge that silicone injections were unsafe.

         Years before meeting Aderotimi and King, Appellant had arranged online to perform similar injection procedures on Stephanie Matos and her friend, Melissa Lisath, in August 2008 at a Philadelphia hotel. Appellant informed the women that her name was "Lillian" and that she was a "nurse practitioner who worked for a plastic surgeon." N.T., 2/20/15, at 5-8. Appellant injected the women with silicone, covered ...

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