Christina Carlin-Kraft was strikingly beautiful. With her stunning looks, enviable figure and a love of fashion, it came as no surprise that she became a successful model.
Christina, 36, was a small-town girl from New Jersey who worked her way up to appear in top magazines such as Vanity Fair and Maxim , and model for brands including cosmetic companies and Victoria’s Secret.
In her profile she described herself as having an ‘olive complexion and green eyes’ and said she was of a ‘Russian and German background with a hint of Swedish’.
Christina said she was looking for work in high fashion and enjoyed tasteful lingerie and swimwear shoots.
Despite living a glamorous life in New York for a while, dining at top restaurants and carrying designer handbags, Christina’s loved ones knew her as a kind, graceful, animal lover who made time for her friends and family.
However, she did have a fiery personality and in 2016, it had got her into trouble when she had a physical argument with a manager of a Manhattan restaurant over a bill. Reports said she was drunk at the time.
Charges were eventually dropped on the condition that she stay out of trouble for the following six months, which she did.
By 2018, Christina was engaged to her long-term boyfriend Alexander Ciccotelli.
He had bought a condo in an affluent area in Ardmore, Philadelphia, for her to live in, and she was there when they weren’t at their other home at the beach.
Christina hadn’t been at the condo for long when she told police she’d had a drink spiked by a man in a bar, who had come back to her home and stolen some of her jewellery and designer bags.
The man, Andre Melton, was later found guilty of burglary, criminal trespassing, theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property.
It had shaken her, but Christina refused to shut herself away. In the early hours of August 22, she got a Lyft taxi – a ride-sharing service – into the bustling city centre.
Later that day, Alex arrived and couldn’t get into the condo. It was dead-bolted from the inside, so his key didn’t work.
Christina wasn’t answering her phone, either. Worried, he called the police and they went to the apartment to investigate.
When police entered, they found Christina dead. Her bloodied, beaten body was under a blanket.
Her nose was broken, her eyes were black where she’d been brutally beaten and punched. An autopsy revealed Christina had died from strangulation.
It was a devastating discovery and because of Christina’s work with Playboy, her death quickly hit the headlines.
Police set about working out Christina’s final movements. CCTV showed she’d met a man outside a pizza shop in downtown Philadelphia in the early hours and a Lyft driver confirmed they’d come back to her apartment together.
There was CCTV at the property that showed them entering and the images were released to the public.
Several tip-offs led them to a suspect – Jonathan Harris. A man who had recently been released from prison after serving time for armed robbery.
Records showed that in the early hours of August 22, he’d messaged a friend to say that he’d just met a ‘sexy’ woman and that he was at her house.
Suspected drug dealer Jonathan, 30, was hunted down as he’d fled across state, and after a week, he was apprehended as he got off a bus in Pittsburgh.
He said that Jonathan had told him there ‘is nothing like squeezing somebody and feeling the last breath leave their body’.
Jonathan was charged with murder. While Christina was buried in a white coffin, surrounded by beautiful flowers.
Despite going into great detail about how he’d beaten and strangled Christina, he pleaded not guilty to her murder at the trial in May 2019.
Jonathan’s defence argued that he was high ‘out of his mind’ on cocaine, marijuana and K2 at the time of the killing and didn’t know what he was doing – or that Christina was dead when he left. ‘Everything was done out of panic,’ they said.
Christina’s family had to listen to a description of the model’s final moments at the hands of her attacker as his confessions were played in court.
Jonathan admitted that he left Christina so battered, even he couldn’t look at her after what he’d done.
‘I covered her with a blanket because I didn’t want to see her like that,’ he was heard saying in a recorded confession. ‘I knew she was hurt really bad.’
Jonathan didn’t testify and his lawyer called no witnesses or disputed the confession. They just asked the jury to find Jonathan guilty of third-degree murder, instead of first.
‘This wasn’t a specific attempt to kill,’ they said. ‘He didn’t go there for that. There was no evidence of that.’
They even suggested that Christina had invited him back simply to get cocaine for free. But the prosecution argued Jonathan’s version didn’t add up.
‘His story was that it was over cocaine, but given the circumstances around this murder, it makes no sense that this was about drugs,’ they said to the jury.
‘Was it over sex? Was it over money? We don’t know because the only person who did know was killed in that bedroom that night.’ No one knows why Christina brought Jonathan back to her home.
They reminded the court there were no drugs in Christina’s system and of the violence she endured at his hands. They said Christina’s last moments were terrifying as she’d been ‘beat, bound and strangled with intent’.
Jonathan’s hospital conversation was brought into evidence, when he’d talked about the feeling of squeezing out someone’s last breath.
‘That statement says he was conscious and aware that she was taking her last breath,’ they told the jury. It could have taken more than three minutes to choke the life out of Christina.
The jury deliberated for over five hours before finding Jonathan guilty of first-degree murder. He was also found guilty of kidnapping, possession of an instrument of a crime and strangulation.
As he was led out of the courtroom, he told reporters that he felt that ‘justice was served’.
Loved ones said Christina was an ‘absolute light in this world’ that had been snuffed out.
At the sentencing in August, Jonathan was given the automatic punishment of life in prison without the chance of parole.
Jonathan spoke to express his ‘deepest condolences’ and blamed the drugs for his actions.
‘I’m not looking for sympathy or making a plea for my life,’ he said ‘I’m standing here, taking responsibility for the things I’ve done, and I’m willing to accept the punishment, even if it’s death.
‘I cannot bring this person back, I cannot change the way you view me. But this was never my intention.’
Christina’s fiancé Alex, 43, said that Jonathan had tried to slander her and said that during their 14-year relationship she had never used drugs. He urged him to tell the truth about their encounter.
‘You killed a kind, loving, generous, amazing person who is sorely missed by everyone every day,’ he said. ‘You murdered a 115-pound defenceless female.
‘You destroyed the lives of so many people and inflicted needless pain on our family and your family, and for what?’
Stuart Kraft, Christina’s dad, said she was ‘the brightest light that ever lived’ and that her death has had a heavy impact on his family.
The judge added an additional 22-and-a-half to 45 years of consecutive time for other charges including kidnapping and strangulation.
He said that Jonathan deserved to spend the rest of his life in prison, and that he would send that message to governors and parole boards who might consider freeing him in the future.
Christina had lived in a world of glamour and beauty, but her final moments were as ugly as life can get.
source : www.mirror.co.uk