ɫ̳

Skip to content
PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

A Los Angeles jury will soon decide whether a Riverside mother-daughter duo bent on enhancing her looks were so negligent in injecting their client with liquid silicone that their actions were tantamount to murder, or whether her death was simply the result of a mistake.

According to an L.A. County prosecutor, Libby Adame, 56, and her daughter Alicia Galaz, 26, should have understood the danger when they stuck two syringes into each of 26-year-old Karissa Rajpaul’s butt cheeks and pressed down on the plungers, injecting her with the chemical typically used to prevent metal from rusting in an attempt to promote the growth of fat cells, but instead nicking a vein and sending the silicone surging into her blood stream, eventually clogging her lungs and brain, causing an embolism that quickly killed her.

The pair knew that act carried an extreme risk, Deputy District Attorney Lee Cernok said, because both were aware of the death of a woman in South Gate the year before from the exact same procedure carried out by two other women they worked with — Galaz was at the scene when paramedics arrived to rush Kenia Arias to a hospital after she received a silicon injection at a salon on Paramount Boulevard in August 2018.

Like a game of a game of Russian roulette, Cernok said, injecting people with liquid silicone carries the possibility of death every time the largely underground procedure is performed.

“These ladies were rolling that barrel every time they showed up with that toxic silicone,” Cernok said.

According to both of their attorneys, however, Adame and Galaz were offering a highly sought-after treatment for women across Southern California and were themselves the victims of overzealous police and prosecutors seeking to make an example of them for what amounted to a tragic accident.

“Do you think killing people is a way to build a successful business?” said Nareg Gourjian, Galaz’s attorney. “They wanted to do a good job.”

Adame, also known as “La Tia” on social media, and Galaz are both charged with one count of second-degree murder for killing Rajpaul.

They’re both accused of implied malice murder — prosecutors contend the women knew their actions were dangerous and did the procedure anyway out of a desire for money, and in doing so showed malice toward Rajpaul.

Adame also faces three counts of performing a medical procedure without a license, one for each time she treated Rajpaul with silicone injections. Galaz faces two such counts.

Both sides rested their cases Thursday after about a week of testimony.

The jury of 10 men and six women were ordered to begin deliberating, but broke for the afternoon without rendering a verdict. They’re expected back at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center on Friday, March 1.

Witnesses who appeared during the trial included two Los Angeles Police Department detectives who investigated Rajpaul’s death and later uncovered Arias’ death at the South Gate salon.

Also testifying were Rajpaul’s husband Marco Gianuzzi, who witnessed two of her previous butt lift procedures from Adame; another man, Emil Cohen, at whose Sherman Oaks home Rajpaul got the third procedure done that later killed her; and an investigator with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration who spoke to the dangers of injectable silicone.

Central to the case is what Adame and Galaz actually knew about the death of Arias in South Gate.

Arias was at the salon seeking a second silicone injection, having discussed the appointment in text messages with Adame, Cernok said. Arias arrived there at around 6 p.m., where she received the injection from two women who Cernok said were part of Adame’s “crew” of butt-lift practitioners.

Galaz, according to security camera footage, also arrived at the salon, but much later, at around 9 p.m. After that, paramedics were called responding to a report of an unconscious woman, Arias, who they took to a nearby hospital. She died that day of an embolism, attorneys said.

Police obtained cell phone data showing Adame was nearby the entire time Arias was at the salon, and that she circled the area numerous times that afternoon.

No one has been charged in Arias’ death. Cernok said Thursday that was because police still do not know who actually performed her butt lift at the salon.

Michael Flanagan, who represented Adame, said his client was not involved in Arias’ butt lift and did not know how it was performed, including whether any mistakes were made that day.

“Does (Adame) know what the problem was? Does she know how much of the silicone was injected?” Flanagan said. “She never heard the silicone was deadly.”

Arias’ cell phone vanished the day of her death, eventually ending up at Adame and Galaz’s home in Riverside. But Gourjian noted the cell phone was turned over the next day to Arias’ family.

But police did not obtain that phone, which held photos of Arias’ butt lift that day that depicted the same bottles of injectable silicone Adame and Galaz used during Rajpaul’s procedure, until months after her death.

Cernok said Adame and Galaz disguised the silicone as massage oil to avoid scrutiny when they obtained the chemical from Colombia and ferried it through Mexico to the U.S.

She said Adame in particular advertised her services in a way that was intended to convince her clients that she was a professional, when in reality she operated a faux-medical practice that nevertheless performed complicated procedures involving sticking syringes into women deep enough to penetrate muscle.

Also in contention was whether or not Adame and Galaz fled Cohen’s home after Rajpaul began to lose consciousness.

In 2021, police interviewed Galaz, who told them she panicked after Rajpaul began spiraling following her third injection. Galaz opened a gate that day to allow paramedics onto the property, but both Galaz and Adame left soon after they arrived.

 

More in Crime and Public Safety