A man pleaded not guilty Tuesday to the bludgeoning death of a mentally challenged mother whose remains were found behind a wall in a Lomita housing project apartment last year, just over six years after she disappeared.
Randolph Garbutt, 44, was ordered to stand trial earlier this month in connection with the killing of 37-year-old Raven Campbell.
The murder charge includes an allegation that Garbutt personally used a hammer to kill Campbell, who died from blunt force trauma to the head.
Campbell was reported missing from her residence in the 26800 block of Western Avenue in June 2009.
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Garbutt lived in the apartment with Campbell and two other people during at least part of the time between December 2008, when Campbell moved in, and when she was reported missing, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Lt. Steve Jauch.
Deputies arrested Garbutt in Los Angeles on Feb. 3 for an outstanding traffic-related warrant, Jauch said. He was arrested and booked in connection with Campbell’s killing after a court appearance on the traffic matter.
Campbell’s remains were found July 2, 2015, in a void behind a closet wall in her apartment in the Harbor Hills Housing Project, after authorities received a tip. Cadaver dogs, which are trained to find bodies, alerted deputies to the human remains.
Relatives said the unit where the remains were found is the one where Campbell lived with a high school friend, who moved out in 2010.
Her family members said last year that Campbell was mentally challenged and had a son.
Garbutt told investigators that he was afraid he would be blamed after she slipped and fell in the apartment and that he then put a plastic bag over her head and choked her to death, the Daily Breeze reported.
But at a hearing in which a judge found sufficient evidence to allow the case to proceed to trial, a friend testified that Garbutt told her that he hit Campbell with a hammer and that he said “God wanted her,” according to the newspaper.
Garbutt — who remains jailed — is due back in a Torrance courtroom Jan. 31 for a pretrial hearing.
–City News Service