NEW ORLEANS — A woman charged with arranging illicit silicone buttocks injections testified Friday that she was only trying to help out a woman who prosecutors say died from the shots.
Natasha Stewart, an adult entertainer also known as Pebbelz Da Model, is charged with depraved-heart murder in the death of 37-year-old Karima Gordon of Atlanta.
Stewart, 40, of suburban Memphis, Tenn., testified that Gordon was insecure about her body and wanted help fixing previously botched buttocks enhancements.
Authorities say Stewart took $200 to refer Gordon to the alleged injector and falsely represented that the injector was a nurse. Stewart said she connected Gordon with the woman performing the injections to help her out, not for money, but she said Gordon insisted on paying her.
Stewart also testified that she thought the woman performing the injections at a Jackson house was indeed a registered nurse and had gotten the injections herself more than 20 times over seven years.
"She told me that she was an RN," Stewart testified.
Prosecutors say Gordon died from silicone in her lungs a few days after getting the shots in March 2012.
Along with depraved-heart murder, a legal term for an action that demonstrates a "callous disregard for human life" and results in death, Stewart is charged with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Depraved-heart murder carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Tracey Lynn Garner, the one suspected of administering the injections, is charged with depraved-heart murder in the deaths of Gordon and another woman, Marilyn Hale of Selma, Ala. She has pleaded not guilty. Her trial is scheduled for March.
Emails introduced Friday in Stewart's case showed that Gordon was a fan of Stewart and was persistent in asking for help getting buttocks injections beginning in 2010.
"I won't give up my mission to ultimately achieve a tastefully great butt enhancement," Gordon wrote in one of the messages.
Gordon's friend, Anglean (AN-juh-lene) Barber, testified Thursday that she and Gordon flew to New York to meet Stewart in February 2012 and that Stewart later referred them Garner.
Barber said she and Gordon wanted the same kind of buttocks enhancement that Stewart had gotten with hopes of becoming models in the hip-hop industry.
Barber said she and Gordon drove to Garner's house in Jackson on March 16, 2012, and both planned to get the injections. Barber said she was unsettled by the appearance of Garner, who was a man before having gender reassignment surgery, and decided not to get the injections. Barber said Gordon got sick soon after getting the shots.
A doctor testified Thursday that Gordon died in a Georgia hospital on March 24, 2012, of silicone embolism in her lungs.