Man charged with murder of Dallas transgender woman

Muhlaysia BookerImage copyright

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Muhlaysia Booker’s murder came weeks after video of her being attacked was shared on social media

A man has been charged with murder following the fatal shooting of transgender woman Muhlaysia Booker last month, police in Dallas, Texas say.

Kendrell Lavar Lyles, 34, has also been charged with the murders of two other people, officials said.

Ms Booker’s killing caused an outcry and highlighted the issue of violence faced by transgender people in the US.

Weeks earlier, she was assaulted during a traffic accident and video of the incident was shared on social media.

In a statement, Dallas police said Mr Lyles was charged with Ms Booker’s murder after he was arrested on 5 June in connection with the other two killings.

The first was the fatal shooting of a woman in Dallas on 22 May and the second was the killing of a man in a drugs-related incident a day later. The victims have not been named. Neither was transgender, the Washington Post quoted police as saying.

Investigators said that, during the course of investigating these two cases, detectives noticed that Mr Lyles drove the same type of car believed to have picked up Muhlaysia Booker on 18 May – the day she was found dead.

Mobile phone analysis indicated he had been in the area where she was picked up as well as at the scene of her murder, the police statement said.

“Muhlaysia Booker was last seen getting into a light coloured Lincoln LS, which is the same type of car driven by suspect Lyles,” the statement said, adding: “Thus far… Lyles has been charged with three counts of murder.

Police have not suggested a motive for the killings.

Detectives said Mr Lyles was also a “person of interest” in the death of 26-year-old Chynal Lindsey, a transgender woman whose body was found floating in a Dallas lake on 1 June, the Washington Post reported.

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Dallas Police

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Chynal Lindsey’s body was found in a lake in north-eastern Dallas

What’s the background?

Police had earlier said there was no evidence linking the death of 23-year-old Ms Booker to Edward Thomas, a 29-year-old man charged with assaulting her in April.

During that incident, Ms Booker had said she backed into another vehicle while reversing out of a parking space. The driver allegedly pointed a gun at her and refused to let her leave unless she paid for the damage.

As a crowd gathered around, police say one onlooker, Mr Thomas, was offered money to beat Ms Booker.

A video of the incident showed a man putting on gloves and punching her repeatedly, giving her a concussion and a broken wrist.

Mr Thomas was charged with aggravated assault, but denies using homophobic language during the attack.

A second person was arrested for kicking Ms Booker in the face but has not been charged.

Figures show that transgender people, particularly trans women of colour, are disproportionately likely to be the victims of violent attacks in the US.

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) said that at least 26 trans people were killed across the US last year – the majority of whom were African-American trans women.

Its report said that “some of these cases involve clear anti-transgender bias”, for example, where the perpetrator may have used transphobic language.

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