Solomon murder trial begins

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – A jury is seated and the testimony is underway in the trial of a Richmond man accused of killing his girlfriend. 29-year-old Michael Solomon is charged with first degree murder in the death of Tameka Claiborne. It's a case that began this summer when a 3-year-old child was found wandering in a parking lot.

Because this case got so much attention, it took a little longer than normal to seat a jury of 12 people and 2 alternates. Testimony wrapped up for the afternoon. We learned today Tameka Claiborne was stabbed three times. Michael Solomon pleaded not guilty to murder, but his attorney told jurors Solomon killed Tameka Claiborne, but it was self defense.

Family and friends testified in court that Michael Solomon and Tameka Claiborne's relationship was deteriorating. They were fighting about rent money and they say those fights were increasingly violent.

Tameka Claiborne's body was found July 23rd duct taped at the head and feet, wrapped in a comforter on the banks of the James River. She was stabbed 3 times with a knife. The fatal wound punctured a main artery to her heart.

Michael Solomon was visibly upset in court Monday as he looked at pictures of Claiborne's body.

Prosecutors Michael Herring and Thomas Johnson told jurors, Solomon killed Claiborne in cold blood, then drove to Alfonzo Richardson's house...a friend and co-worker.

There, they say he admitted to murder and then said Tameka Claiborne's child has quote, "Got to go".

Prosecutors say the pair drove back to the crime scene; an apartment in Richmond and found the victim's son, 3-year-old Malik asleep, curled around his dead mother's body.

Richmond police detectives testified they found Claiborne's blood spattered in 16 different areas of her apartment. Her son was left on the bumper of a pickup truck at a Chesterfield apartment complex. Claiborne's phone was found in the woods near her home.

Defense attorney Mary K. Martin says Solomon acted in self defense. She says Solomon and Claiborne fought. She says Claiborne grabbed a knife from the kitchen, they struggled and she got stabbed.

Martin says Solomon panicked, thought about killing himself, but instead tried to cover up Tameka Claiborne's death.

Solomon is charged with first degree murder, improper disposal of a body and felony child neglect. The trial has ended for the day and the judge is keeping a close eye on the forecast. The case could end up delayed for a day.

The trial is expected to last at least through Wednesday. Snow could push it back through Thursday.

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.