A 33-year-old man has been arrested in the slaying of Muhlaysia Booker, 23, a transgender woman whose violent beating was caught on video in May; she was later found shot to death in Dallas, according to police.
On June 5, Kendrell Lavar Lyles was arrested after tips from the public led police to him in connection with the deaths of at least two other women, Dallas homicide Maj. Max Geron said.
Detectives found that Lyles’ car matched the description of the one witnesses reported seeing Booker enter May 18, the night she was later found dead, Geron told reporters.
Lyles has been charged with three counts of murder in the deaths, Geron said.
Lyles is being held without bond in the Collin County Jail in McKinney. He has no attorney yet to speak for him.
Original report: Muhlaysia Booker, 22, was found lying face down about 6:40 a.m. Saturday in the 7200 block of Valley Glen Drive, Dallas police officials said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Authorities said Sunday that they had no leads in Booker’s death. Dallas police Maj. Vincent Weddington said during a news conference that there was no known connection between Booker’s slaying and the April 12 mob attack that was caught on video.
The sole suspect arrested in the prior attack had been released from jail prior to Booker being found dead, Weddington said. Edward Dominic Thomas, 29, is charged with aggravated assault in the beating, which authorities said has been flagged as a hate crime.
Thomas’ whereabouts were unknown Sunday, Weddington said. Dallas County Jail records on Tuesday indicated Thomas was booked into the facility Monday in connection with the aggravated assault charge against him in Booker’s attack.
Abounding Prosperity, an organization that supports members of the black community in Dallas, particularly those in the LGBTQ community, described Booker in a statement as a “courageous young woman who was seeking justice for the brutal attack launched against her.” Her death inspired the group to continue seeking justice on her behalf, the statement said.
“This incidence of African American trans women being murdered has become too frequent, and it must be stopped,” the group’s statement read.
Watch Dallas police officials speak about Muhlaysia Booker’s death below.
Police officials declined to say if Booker had reported receiving threats prior to her killing, according to The Dallas Morning News.
Booker did report the April attack, which occurred after a fender bender in an apartment complex’s parking lot.
Authorities said police officers went to a Dallas-area hospital the night of April 12 and spoke with Booker, who had been taken for medical treatment after the broad daylight attack at the Royal Crest Apartments.
The News reported that an arrest affidavit in the case indicates Booker told investigators she had accidentally backed into a vehicle at the complex. The driver of the vehicle, who has not been charged in the case, told authorities he ran Booker off the road to stop her from leaving the scene.
Booker told detectives the other driver held her at gunpoint, demanding she pay for the damage to his vehicle. The affidavit obtained by the newspaper said as a crowd gathered, someone offered Thomas $200 to beat Booker.
Video of the attack shows Thomas, dressed mostly in white, putting on gloves, walking up to Booker, who is wearing a pink wig, and punching her multiple times, the News reported. A portion of the video posted on YouTube shows him straddling Booker and raining blows on her face and head.
See footage of Booker’s April 12 beating below. Warning: The video contains graphic violence and harsh language.
Another man in the video, who the News reported had been identified but not arrested as of April 15, stomps several times on Booker’s face. Booker stumbles around the parking lot as she tries to flee, but the man alleged to be Thomas follows her.
Several women eventually rescue a limp Booker and carry her away. The women took Booker to a hospital, where doctors found she had a concussion, a broken wrist and bruising and swelling to her face, the News reported.
Unnamed witnesses told Booker that Thomas was the man who assaulted her. An investigator who spoke to Thomas after the incident recognized him from the video, the affidavit said.
Thomas, 29, was arrested April 14 and charged with aggravated assault, police officials said. He could face additional charges in the incident.
Booker spoke to a crowd at a rally held in Dallas the week of the attack. She said she was grateful to have lived through the ordeal.
“This time, I can stand before you where, in other scenarios, we’re at a memorial,” Booker said, according to CBS Dallas Fort Worth.
“This has been a rough week for myself, the transgender community and also the city of Dallas,” Booker said as she stood surrounded by supporters. “But I want to sincerely thank all of you guys for coming out, for support and fairness.”
“I will remain strong with your support.”
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings spoke out in the aftermath of the assault on Booker.
“I am extremely angry about what appears to be mob violence against this woman,” Rawlings said on his Facebook page. “Those who did this do not represent how Dallasites feel about our thriving LGBTQ community. We will not stand for this kind of behavior.”
Rawlings tweeted Sunday that he was “deeply saddened” to learn of Booker’s slaying. He urged anyone with information on her killer to contact the authorities.
Gender identity is not covered under Texas’ hate crime statutes, but The Washington Post reported that federal law allows prosecutors to seek harsher penalties for violence against transgender people.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, transgender women of color are the group in the most danger of deadly violence. The majority of the 128 transgender people known to have been killed between 2013 and 2018 were female minorities.
At least 29 transgender women were slain in 2017, the highest number ever recorded, the HRC said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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