Man pleads guilty to murder of trans woman Muhlaysia Booker

A man has pleaded guilty to the murder of transgender woman Muhlaysia Booker and will be sentenced to 48 years behind bars.

Booker was just 22 years old when she was shot and killed on a street in Dallas, Texas in 2019.

Police investigating the murder used cell phone records to determine Kendrell Lyles, 37, as a suspect.

Shortly before his trial was due to begin, Lyles entered a guilty plea to murder, according to the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office.

Trans woman Muhlaysia Booker beaten by mob last month shot dead in Dallas
Transgender woman Muhlaysia Booker was just 22 when she was fatally shot. (Facebook)

Ahead of victim impact statements this Thursday (9 November), Booker’s mother Stephanie Houston told WFAA: “No amount of time can bring Muhlaysia back, and although we wish the sentence was capital punishment, our family can finally have some sense of closure knowing that justice was served and he can’t cause any more families hurt and pain.”

In a separate statement to the local news publication, Ahmad Goree, the president of the Muhlaysia Booker Foundation said: “We hope this sentence sends a message that trans lives matter, and those who decide to do this community harm will face justice. 

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“Thank you to the Dallas Police Department and their detectives for solving the case so quickly.”

According to court records, seen by WFAA, Lyles is also facing murder charges for the deaths of Leticia Grant, 35, and Kenneth Cichocki, 29, neither of whom were transgender, according to police.

It was while investigating the deaths of Grant and Cichocki that police identified Lyles as a suspect in Booker’s murder as well.

Muhlaysia Booker remembered at London vigil. (Vic Parsons)

Kendrell Lyle’s attorney, Richard Franklin said that his client’s guilty plea was “the right result”, per AP News, but said he did not know Lyle’s motive.

Shortly before Booker’s devastating murder, a video of her being assaulted by a group of men had gone viral online.

Following a car accident in April 2019, Booker was attacked by several men – footage of which was shared on social media. 

Eventually, Booker was brought to the hospital and treated for her injuries, and Edward Thomas was later sentenced to 300 days in jail after being convicted of misdemeanor assault.

Booker had told police that the men who attacked her after the traffic accident used homophobic slurs.

At a rally after the assault, Booker stood defiant and told supporters: “This time I can stand before you, whereas in other scenarios, we are at a memorial.”

Police have not yet shared the motive behind Booker’s murder, but have said it was unrelated to the earlier assault.

Booker was remembered by friends as a “big, big personality” who stood proudly with her community and was never defined by what she had gone through.

 Transgender Black women are among the most at-risk individuals in the US.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, at least 334 trans and gender non-conforming people have been killed by violence in the US.

Of those, 75 per cent were trans women of colour, 62 per cent were Black trans women, and almost ten per cent of those murders occurred in Texas.