Jurors deciding the fate of a Galena Park man accused in the high-profile double homicide of a transgender woman and a man during a Midtown street brawl were shown a string of text messages between the accused killer and a friend that appeared to show a grisly plan.
“I’m going to get juiced up and cut (someone’s) finger off,” read the phone message to Tariq Lackings from a witness who was also present during the brawl that led to the slayings.
Lackings, 32, faces life in prison if convicted of murder in the fatal shooting of 34-year-old Shante Isaac during a melee on a street in Midtown Houston on April 10, 2016.
Prosecutors put on testimony about the string of text messages as a way to show that Lackings was at the brawl that erupted and knew there could be violence. They are expected to connect Lackings to the gun that was used in Issac’s killing.
Defense attorney Paul Morgan said the prosecution is mistaken about what happened and Houston police have charged the wrong man in the shooting.
In court, he pointed to the inflammatory texts as proof that other people, not Lackings, were responsible.
Willie Sims, 33, was also stabbed to death that night. Lackings was originally charged with capital murder for both deaths, but prosecutors later reduced the case to murder, for just the death of Isaac in the midtown melee.
Both men were pronounced dead at the scene after being assaulted at 1100 Dennis Street about 11:15 p.m. that night, according to a release from the Houston Police Department.
According to police, witnesses said a half-dozen people approached Isaac and Sims that night.
Witnesses said Lackings apparently pulled a gun and fired at Isaac, hitting Sims instead as he tried to pull the transgender woman from harm’s way, police said. Then, according to a witness, the attackers pulled out metal pipes and began to beat Sims and Isaac, a transgender woman who was born Robert Isaac.
Witnesses said the incident probably sprang from some sort of dispute between Isaac and one of her attackers, another transgender woman, over a man.
Lackings, who remains in the Harris County jail on a $250,000, is being tried in visiting state District Judge Reagan Clark’s court. A jury was selected Friday and several witnesses are expected to testify Tuesday. The trial is expected to last about a week.