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A 54-year-old man in Rhode Island will spend the remainder of his days behind bars for killing his girlfriend, fatally shooting the 40-year-old woman inside of his apartment, wrapping her body in plastic wrap, and then stuffing her remains in his refrigerator. Providence County Superior Court Justice Robert D. Krause on Tuesday ordered Nathan Cooper to serve two consecutive life sentences in a state correctional facility for the 2022 slaying of Sherbert “Strawberry” Maddox, authorities announced.
In addition to the life sentences, Judge Krause also sentenced Cooper to two 10-year prison terms, to be served concurrent to his other sentences.
Following a six-day trial, a jury in Providence County found Cooper guilty on one count of second-degree murder, one count of discharging a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence resulting in death, and two counts of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.
According to a press release from the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office, Cooper on March 16, 2022, shot and killed Maddox inside of his apartment located in the 10 block of Parkis Avenue in Elmwood, firing a single bullet through her chest. Several days later, on March 22, members of the victim’s family flagged down an officer with the Providence Police Department and claimed that Maddox had been murdered by Cooper and that Cooper was keeping her body inside his apartment.
“Upon entering the residence, police found a .38 caliber revolver and a shotgun, and discovered that the refrigerator was moved from the kitchen to the defendant’s bedroom and tied shut with cord,” the AG’s office wrote in the release. “Inside the refrigerator, police discovered the victim’s body wrapped in several layers of plastic wrap and bedding.”
A subsequent autopsy determined that Maddox’s cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the chest and the manner of death was determined to be a homicide.
According to a report from The Providence Journal, Cooper continued to maintain that he shot Maddox by accident after Maddox splashed water on him, but never explained why he let her bleed out instead of calling 911 or why he then wrapped up her body and put it in the refrigerator.
Krause reportedly referred to the concocted story as “baseless” and pointed to multiple text messages Cooper sent that were filled with vitriolic attacks on Maddox.
“Worst chick I’ve ever ran into in my life,” he reportedly wrote in one message, referring to Maddox. “I swear on my mother this ain’t going to end well,” he said in another, referring to their relationship.
During the trial, prosecutors showed the jury evidence indicating Cooper intentionally shot Maddox while she was in the bathroom shower, the Journal reported. He then remained in his apartment for several days doing drugs before asking a friend to bring over plastic wrap.
When he finished wrapping Maddox’s body, Cooper reportedly stuffed the remains into his refrigerator — which he had moved from the kitchen into his bedroom — and crammed her body inside along with a note that read “I don’t trust you.”
At the conclusion of the sentencing hearing, one of Maddox’s family members who was in attendance could be heard yelling “We’ll see you in hell” at Cooper as he was being led out of the courtroom, the Journal reported.
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