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Man sentenced to 11 years for killing and hiding mentally disabled roommate in apartment wall

For six years, Randolph Garbutt lived in fear that his past would catch up to him.

In a 2016 interview with police, he said he never meant to kill his roommate, Raven Campbell, 37. 

Garbutt, who pleaded no contest to manslaughter in the killing, was sentenced to 11 years in prison in October, according to prosecutors and court records.

Campbell went missing during the summer of 2009. Her whereabouts remained a mystery for six years, until Campbell’s sister received an anonymous phone call to check the downstairs closet of the old apartment she shared with Garbutt in Lomita. 

With the help of cadaver dogs, authorities discovered Campbell's body hidden in a wall in July 2015. 

Court documents made public after the sentencing detailed what Garbutt initially told investigators.

Seven months after Campbell’s body was discovered, Garbutt was arrested on a minor traffic violation.

When he was questioned by investigators, Garbutt told them that Campbell had slipped and hit her head on copper wiring in the kitchen.

The fall “caused her to bleed profusely,” according to court records.

Garbutt said Campbell was still breathing when she fell, but that blood was everywhere and that he didn’t know what to do.

“I thought she was dead, but she wasn’t,” Garbutt said in an interview with police.

Garbutt said when Campbell’s body twitched, he got nervous and moved her to the sofa.

Garbutt then “put a plastic bag over her head and choked her,” he said.

Garbutt said he wrapped her lifeless body in garbage bags and hid her in a closet, covering her figure with hanging clothes so as not to alert his then-girlfriend, Myesha Smith, who, at the time, frequented the apartment.

Smith eventually testified in court that Campbell’s head injury stemmed from Garbutt hitting her in the head with a hammer. She died of blunt force trauma.

Two days after the killing, Garbutt said he moved the body into a hole in the wall and threw toilet fresheners inside to mask the smell. The opening was then covered with a poster.

“I knew eventually one day this would come out,” Garbutt told police. “I didn't forcefully kill her,” he said, adding that it was an accident, and that she did not scream.

Originally, Garbutt was charged with first-degree murder.

In a plea deal, prosecutors dropped the murder charge and Garbutt pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter.

Family members said in court records that Campbell was a loving and joyful person who was taken advantage of in the worst way, and that Garbutt should receive the harshest penalty.

Campbell's sister previously told The Times that Campbell had a mental disability, which the wrong person could prey upon.

Campbell previously lived in a group facility before moving into the apartment with a high school friend in 2010.

Contact the Homicide Report. Follow @latimeshomicide on Twitter.

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