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JANUARY 2021 HOMICIDE

Kenosha man who killed, hid body of girlfriend sentenced to life in prison

The Kenosha man who killed his girlfriend and then hid her body for weeks as her loved ones searched for her will spend the rest of his life in a prison.

Kenosha man who killed, hid body of girlfriend sentenced to life in prison

Roderick L. Smith, 41, of Kenosha, was sentenced Thursday to life in prison with no possibility of extended supervision for first-degree intentional homicide with a deadly weapon. He killed Gia Buccieri-Martin on Jan. 25, 2021, and then hid her body for weeks.

Roderick L. Smith, 41, was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of extended supervision for first-degree intentional homicide with a deadly weapon Thursday afternoon by Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Jason Rossell.

Smith had been scheduled to go on trial late last year in the shooting death of Gia Buccieri-Martin, who was killed Jan. 25, 2021, but instead made a plea agreement as jury selection was set to begin.

On Thursday, Smith’s request to have his plea deal withdrawn was denied by Rossell who later sentenced Smith to life in prison. As part of the agreement, felony counts of hiding a corpse and possession of a firearm by a felon, and a misdemeanor charge of resisting an officer were dismissed.

Kenosha County District Attorney Mike Graveley said after the sentencing that he was pleased that Smith’s request to withdraw his plea was denied. Smith and his defense attorney David Berman unsuccessfully argued that Smith did not understand what such a plea agreement meant for him. Graveley said Smith’s request was simply a case of “buyer’s remorse.”

Graveley said the life sentence was appropriate because he “desecrated” Martin’s body, caused immense suffering to her family and is a threat to the safety of anyone who becomes close to him.

Deceived family, police

The case began to build against Smith on Feb. 13, 2021, when Kenosha Police were called to the apartment that Smith and Martin shared at 5120 14th Ave., and Smith told officers he was worried about his girlfriend’s safety.

Smith attempted to deceive both Martin’s family and investigators with a story that she had disappeared after going out at night, according to prosecutors. While he was telling family members he was helping with their search, he had kept her body hidden at the residence for weeks.

Police later found Martin’s naked and bound body in a garbage can near the street. Her family had reported Martin missing nearly three weeks before on Jan. 26, 2021.

Family members called police to the apartment because of “an awful smell” and a collection of cleaning supplies, gloves and garbage bags they found in Martin’s bedroom, according to the criminal complaint.

Smith shot Martin in the back with a shotgun Jan. 25, 2021, according to prosecutors, and then hid her body in the bedroom before he moved it to the garbage can.

Smith told police in January he had last seen Martin on Jan. 24, when she left their apartment at 11 p.m. to go out with an unknown friend. But family members were suspicious of him, they stated, both because he had a long history of domestic violence with other women, and Martin had told family members he had beaten her in the past.

When police told Smith they found Martin’s body, he initially denied knowing her body was in the garbage can, but later admitted he had hidden it there. He initially stated she died of an overdose “or possibly committed suicide” and he hid her body because he didn’t know what to do.

When police asked why he would have shot Martin, according to the criminal complaint, Martin said, “I don’t have a reason ... I guess out of anger since I shot her in the back.”

Sentenced Thursday

Graveley called Smith’s interactions with Martin’s family following her death a “charade” after he “desecrated” her body.

“Who is capable of that?” Graveley said. “He is profoundly dishonest.”

Graveley said that sort of “heinous desecration” is “deserving of the maximum sentence this court can provide.”

Martin, a mother, daughter and friend to many, was just 39 when she was killed.

Her mother, Rhonda Decicco, spoke before the court Thursday.

“I wake up every day, every morning without my firstborn daughter,” Decicco said. “The night I received the phone call that Gia was gone I knew a large part of me would be gone, too.”

Decicco said she is still “haunted” by the way Smith defiled Martin’s body after her death.

“How could he do that to a woman loved and care for?” she said, adding that Smith “is an evil person.”

Decicco said Smith would kill again if ever let out of prison.

Smith showed no emotion in court and offered only a brief apology to Martin’s family.

Berman argued Rossell should allow Smith the possibility of extended supervision after 20 years in prison in part because he spared Martin’s family a trial. Berman also argued Smith had a “profoundly” troubled upbringing and suffered from mental illness.

Rossell, however, said he “can’t trust a single thing” Smith said and was “not exactly sure that you have real remorse.”

Rossell said he does not see the “capacity for change” in Smith for extended supervision, even after 20 years in a state prison.

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