Jury finds Henrico man guilty of killing VCU employee, Suzanne Fairman
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Following a multi-day trial, a jury found the man charged with raping and killing a VCU employee inside her home guilty on all charges.
Suzanne Fairman, 53, was found dead in the bathtub of her Stratford Hills home in May 2019. Thomas Clark, now 61, who was hired as a contractor to stain Fairman’s deck, was arrested a week after the murder.
After deliberating a little over an hour, a Richmond jury found Clark guilty of abduction, rape and murder.
“With this verdict, I just feel everybody can begin to heal,” said Scott Fairman, Fairman’s son.
Scott said a tremendous amount of relief has set in after the three days of testimony in the trial of his mother’s killer.
“She was very loving, very optimistic, and she just was a beautiful person all around,” he said.
Scott knew something was wrong when he and other family members had not heard from Fairman in 24 hours.
The 53-year-old was expected to land in Florida the evening of May 9, 2019, to visit her mother but never arrived.
A welfare check was done late that night where officers discovered Fairman’s body submerged underwater in her bathtub with multiple injuries.
The Commonwealth Attorney’s Office presented evidence showing Clark had used a knife and other items to intimidate and then rape Fairman.
A medical examiner said she died from strangulation.
Forensics also found Clark’s DNA in Fairman despite being in the water for an unknown period of time. The state argued Clark tried to cover up the crime and get rid of the evidence.
Despite the graphic nature of the evidence, Scott felt the need to see and hear it for himself.
“Because I have gone the last 2.5 years with vague detail... she was my mother and best friend, I just had to know,” Fairman said. “There’s just something personal that I just needed to hear.”
The Commonwealth Attorney’s Office urged the jury to look at the evidence as a whole, saying there is no doubt Clark was the man who did this crime.
However, Clark’s defense attorney argued the jury should look at what was not presented - that included an exact time when Fairman was killed.
The defense adding cell phone data did not show Clark’s phone at Fairman’s home the night of May 8, when it’s believed the crime happened.
Instead, witness testimony showed someone at Clark’s house using his phone for roughly an hour and a half, leaving Clark’s whereabouts unaccounted for. That cell phone then pinged off a tower near Fairman’s home on May 9, but another witness said she was with Clark in Henrico’s west end on that day for a period of time.
Overall, the jury, made up of eight women and six men, took a little over an hour to render guilty verdicts.
“It just speaks volumes to how the experts presented their evidence and how the prosecutors questioned them,” Scott said. “Just how everything was presented that there was no question that this person did this.”
Clark has a lengthy criminal history that dates back 40 years, including burglary, drug possession and rape.
Meanwhile, Clark’s attorney says his heart goes out to the Fairman family. He went on to say he respects the jury’s decision and Clark maintaining his innocence and right to appeal.
Clark is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 14, 2022, at 1 p.m.
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