He called himself "The Boogie Man" and he fished in the sea of relationship chat rooms to snag compliant women, until one of them turned up dead.
Richard Albert Thompson is on trial for murder in Sacramento Superior Court in last year's Valentine's Day killing of Sharion Renay "Kitty" King, who was stabbed in the heart and set on fire in Discovery Park.
In two days of testimony in front of Judge Russell L. Hom, one word kept creeping into Thompson's denials from the witness stand that he had anything to do with King's death.
It also was replete in the visual display of text-message conversations the 37-year-old defendant had with the 43-year-old victim "control."
In one key passage he sent to King a few days before she died, Thompson said "My (stuff) ain't right unless I control it. A (woman) helps get it."
Asked by his lawyer, Greg Foster, to explain what that meant, Thompson testified, "It's like a contract. If you're with me, I'm going to control the finances If we're a family, I'm the head of the family If you have any suggestions, of course I'll listen to what you have to say But it's only conversation I'm going to say what the best idea is."
Thompson testified he established a convenient relationship with Kitty and several other women. If they wanted to sell sex on the street, he'd give them protection, if they wanted it, but he would collect the money no matter what, although he insisted he was not a pimp.
If they were on welfare and had money coming in on government debit cards, he'd take charge of that, too. Income tax returns were forwarded to Thompson. And when Kitty King came in line to collect upward of $25,000 in a slip-and-fall lawsuit, Thompson told the jury of 10 women and two men he also stood first in line on that score.
But there was one thing Thompson testified he could not abide, and that was being questioned or stressed by Kitty, any of them. And an examination of the text messages on the courthouse screen over the last couple of days demonstrated it was King who challenged Thompson.
For one thing, Thompson testified he strongly disapproved of Kitty taking some of her money out of his control by spending it on crack cocaine. He disapproved of it so strongly he regularly snatched her cellphone to monitor her texts for details on drug transactions. He said he also strongly disapproved of her heavy drinking.
Unlike his other girls, Kitty raised her voice with him, Thompson said, even tried to smack him around on occasion. She also confronted him about the purse strings.
In one disagreement, Thompson wrapped up a texted conversation by telling her, "What I say go. I control the money now. When you realize this, we'll talk."
King first hooked up with Thompson through the MocoSpace dating website. She had her own apartment on Greenholme Drive in Foothill Farms. After he met her, Thompson said he then rented another apartment in Arden Arcade where he put up some of his other girls.
He testified Kitty King was in the running to be his "boss (woman)," but that she set a bad example for the rest of the crew with her insolence.
"You supposed to show them how to obey and listen to Boogie," he texted her, four days before her death.
According to the texts, Thompson's anger intensified the day before Valentine's Day 2012 when he learned she'd done baby-sitting jobs without turning the cash over to him.
"I control the money," he said. "You keep stashing it, we're going to have a problem."
When she wouldn't let up about putting some money into a car, Thompson shot off a text that read, "If you keep talking about that car, I will get u out of my life and get rid of my problem."
Meanwhile, one of his girls testified he got her to score a 5-gallon gas can from her mother, and another said she was with him when he filled it up before the killing at an Elk Grove gas station.
Late on the evening of Feb. 13, Thompson said he loaded Kitty and some of the other girls into a car and they drove north of downtown, where they parked near 16th Street and Richards Boulevard.
The girls testified Thompson took Kitty for a walk and came back a few hours later without any shoes on and no Kitty.
He testified Kitty had arranged a drug deal for herself, and that he wanted to check it out. He said they met her connection just north of Old Sacramento and that the three of them walked to the archery range in Discovery Park.
In the park, Thompson said, the drug connection, a man he knew and identified as "Payday," turned on King and made a stabbing type motion while two other guys jumped him. "Payday," Thompson said, then walked him out of Discovery Park.
King's incinerated body was discovered the morning of last Feb. 14 and Thompson was arrested the next day when he showed up for a meeting with his probation officer.
Deputy District Attorney Sheri Greco is expected to complete her cross-examination of Thompson today. Closing arguments are likely to begin Thursday. The case could go to the jury Friday.