Thomas Clark found guilty of raping, murdering VCU administrator

Crime

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A jury has found Thomas Clark guilty of first-degree murder, rape and abduction with intent to defile in the case of 53-year-old Suzanne Fairman. 

Police found Fairman dead, face-up in the bathtub of her Stratford Hills home on May 9, 2019. Clark had been hired as a contractor by Fairman around the time she was killed.

Pending his sentencing on February 14, Clark faces life in prison for the crimes. 

Following the verdict, the defense attorney said Clark “maintains his innocence and appreciates his right to appeal.” The attorney also said he respects the jury’s decision and their hearts go out to Fairman’s family.

Throughout the three day trial, the prosecution called more than a dozen witnesses, including detectives, forensic scientists, the medical examiner, and a cell phone analyst.

The defense called just one witness, who testified that Clark gave her rides to and from work on one of the key night’s in question, May 9. The defense appeared to argue that this testimony would clear Clark of the murder because of the timeline. 

It’s still not clear exactly when Fairman died. Her last known contact with family was by cell phone around 6:50 p.m. on May 8. Police found her dead the night of May 9. According to testimony from various witnesses, Fairman was murdered between 6:50 p.m. on May 8 and 6:30 pm on May 9. 

During closing arguments, the prosecution showed the jury photos and body cam video of the crime scene once again. 

“The bandana, whose DNA did it have on it? Thomas Clark,” prosecutor Chris Bullard told the jury. “Who was in that sperm fraction? Thomas Clark’s DNA,” he said.

Bullard went through the prosecutions key points of evidence, including alleging that Clark purposefully left his phone with a friend on May 8 so he couldn’t be traced going to Fairman’s home. 

“He knew what he was gonna do and he knew he wasn’t gonna leave any survivors,” Bullard said. 

In closing arguments, the defense suggested that the pair could have had consensual sex before she died, that cross contamination of DNA could have occurred, and that someone else could have planted Clark’s bandana in the bathroom. 

Defense attorney Ali Amirshahi repeatedly told the jury to question if the commonwealth had proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt. 

“Our evidence puts holes throughout their entire case,” Amirshahi said. 

The jury was made up of majority women after two male alternates were filtered out before deliberation, which began at 1:20 p.m. Wednesday. They deliberated for about an hour and 15 minutes before reaching the guilty verdict.

After the verdict was read, Fairman’s son, Scott Fairman, stopped to talk with reporters outside. The victim’s son said he’s feeling “a huge amount of relief.”

“With this verdict I feel like everybody can begin to heal,” he said. Sitting in the trial for three days next to the man accused of taking his mother’s life wasn’t easy. “It was disturbing. That was the first time that I’d ever seen him in person,” S. Fairman told 8News.

He said he only knew vague details of the case and learned a lot sitting in the courtroom. “Just how everything was presented… there was no question this individual did this.”

The victim’s son said he doesn’t want people to remember Suzanne Fairman for what happened to her. Instead, “as the wonderful, beautiful, loving person she was.”

Click here for breakdowns of what happened during the first two days of the trial.

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