An upstate man pleaded guilty in Queens Supreme Court to manslaughter for killing the 26-year-old mother of his two children in November 2020 and stuffing her remains in the trunk of a car that was discovered months later in South Jamaica.
Kareem Flake, 31, of Troy, New York, who evaded capture for more than a year, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the first degree.
According to the charges, Destini Smothers, 26, was last seen in a car with Flake after leaving an outing with friends at the Bowlero bowling alley in Woodside, where they had been seen arguing on Nov. 3, 2020, and she was reported missing by her family.
Four months later, on March 10, 2021, a Toyota Camry that had been abandoned at the intersection of 134th Avenue and 151st Place, on a residential street a block away from Baisley Pond Park in South Jamaica, was being towed away when the tow truck operator saw a flat tire on the vehicle. The tow truck driver from the Department of Sanitation pulled over and opened the trunk to look for a spare. In the trunk, he discovered the decomposing remains of the victim and immediately notified authorities. During the course of the subsequent investigation, it was determined that the car belonged to Flake.
An autopsy performed by the New York City Medical Examiner found that Smothers died from a gunshot wound to her head.
Flake was arrested on April 9, 2022, in Osceola County, Florida, and later extradited back to Queens last July to face justice.
“This young mother was brutally murdered and her family left to agonize, not knowing what happened to her as her body lay in the trunk of an abandoned car for months,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said. “Hopefully this plea will afford some comfort to her loved ones.”
Queens Supreme Court Justice Michael Aloise indicated he would sentence Flake on Sept. 28 to a determinate term of 22 years in prison to be followed by five years post-release supervision.