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Reginald Potts’ ex-wife, former girlfriend recount abuse

Reginald Potts Jr.’s ex-wife testified Thursday that he punched, choked and tried to suffocate her during their turbulent marriage.

A former girlfriend also said Potts wrapped his hands around her neck.

“I was too scared,” ex-wife Nathaly Figueroa said of her reluctance to initially tell police about Potts’ violent temper.

Authorities were called after girlfriend Ina Jones said Potts put “both of his hands” on her neck at her family’s home in Maywood in the fall of 2007.

“I was scared to leave the house,” Jones said.

Figueroa and Jones, who were both granted orders of protection against Potts, were called to the witness stand by Cook County prosecutors, who are trying to prove that Potts asphyxiated his ex-girlfriend Nailah Franklin.

Nailah Franklin

Nailah Franklin

Figueroa met Potts, 39, when they were teenagers. The couple had a daughter before they married in 2005 and had another girl that Christmas, Figueroa said, recounting the happier times of the troubled union.

One time while she was driving on the expressway, Figueroa said, Potts hit her in the face, forcing her to pull over. “I was crying. I was screaming. My eyes were swelling up,” Figueroa said. She said Potts apologized minutes after he delivered the blow.

Figueroa said Potts once climbed on top of her and smothered her with a pillow, making it hard for her to breath. He also choked her with his two hands, pulled her arm so hard she fell down, and drove off with her cellphones during heated arguments, Figueroa said.

And when Figueroa told him she wanted a divorce, Potts allegedly shoved and hit her in the ear. Figueroa ended up in the hospital. She told nurses that her husband had beat her, but she refused to press charges.

During cross examination, Figueroa admitted when she finally filed for divorce in 2007, she did not mention the physical abuse.

Jones’ harrowing testimony touched upon the bond she quickly formed with Franklin after Franklin reached out to her on MySpace to tell her they had a mutual friend named “RP.”

The two soon started calling and emailing about their experiences with Potts. The tone of the conversations were “friendly,” said Jones, who gave birth to one of Potts’ children in the summer of 2007.

Jones thought the relationship was serious, but Potts was juggling several women while he was separated from Figueroa.

Franklin, in an email to Jones, described her dealings with Potts as some “bad Mary J. Blige song.”

Jones said that she and Franklin had exchanged emails on the morning of Sept. 18, 2007 — the day Franklin was last seen alive with Potts on surveillance video at her University Village condo building.

When Franklin’s decomposed body turned up in a wooded area behind a vacant video store in Calumet City, Jones recognized the business. Potts had previously taken Jones to the video store, which was then owned by Potts’ brother-in-law.

Potts’ trial will continue Friday before Judge Thomas Gainer Jr.