As jurors heard the final arguments in the case against him today, Keith Littlepage sat quietly at the defense table dressed in a pale lavender shirt and blue tie, showing no emotion even as prosecutors projected a photo above him of his fiance’s lifeless body.
The photo of Selina Knight, splayed dead across a black couch, had been shown again and again over the week-long trial, as had photographs of graffiti scrawled across a wall in Knight’s apartment. “HIV,” “bitch,” and “AIDS,” the grafiti read.
Prosecutor Robert Feitel said those words were Littlepage’s calling card, echoing threats Littlepage had made to Knight in the weeks before her murder, as well as Littlepage’s own words to a crisis counselor at Sibley Hospital after Knight’s death.
Littlepage, 50, is suspected of fatally stabbing Knight at the Southeast DC home that they shared but she was trying to leave. He is charged with first-degree murder while armed, kidnapping, and burglary, among other charges associated with the case. He pled innocent.
Knight was found dead of a stabbing on March 4, 2011, in her apartment. In the days before the murder, her home had twice been burglarized. In those burglaries, photos of Knight and Littlepage were taken, Knight’s father’s ashes were flushed down the toilet, her clothes were thrown into the bathtub with bleach, and the TV was stolen. Prosecutors say Littlepage is responsible for all those acts.
Calling Littlepage “an obsessive ex-lover, spurned by Miss Knight for the final time,” Feitel told jurors in closing arguments Thursday that Littlepage had been “desperate to hurt” Knight.
“Everything Keith Littlepage did was personal,” Feitel said. “It was the ultimate personal act. He killed Selina Knight.”
At trial, Knight’s family testified that they heard a voicemail Littlepage had left on Knight’s phone threatening to make fliers with her photo, HIV status, and address. On the message, Littlepage said he would post the fliers at local businesses. A crisis counselor testified that on March 9, a suicidal Littlepage told her, “Bitch gave me HIV. Bitch gave me AIDS.” Stricken by the words, she jotted them down in her dayplanner.
Knight had been diagnosed HIV positive about a decade ago, her family testified. They said many people, including Littlepage, had known that she was HIV positive for several years.
“This ain’t business; it’s personal,” Feitel said. “He was casting her with the scarlet ‘A’” in order to give himself a reason, beyond the breakup, to kill her.
Littlepage tested negative for HIV in a test he took after Knight’s death.
Anthony Matthews, Littlepage’s attorney called the government’s theory a “theme” crafted to play on the hearts and minds of members of the jury.
Teasing out inconsistencies in the case, Matthews said the writing on the wall did not look Littlepage’s handwriting. That no one saw Littlepage carrying around a stolen TV. That, while Littlepage had called Knight and others incessantly before Knight was killed, and then stopped the night she was killed, that there was a simple, non-criminal explanation for that: Homeless after being thrown out by his girlfriend, he likely had no where to charge his cellphone.
And he said detectives never tested Knight’s fingernail clippings for DNA, evidence that could have implicated someone else in the murder.
The jury of nine women and three men began deliberations before noon Thursday. Judge Thomas Motley instructed them to take lunch breaks between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. each day of deliberations and said that deliberations would last until 4:30 p.m. each day.