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Jurors deliberate fate of man accused of killing transgender woman in Midtown Houston

August 29, 2018

The motive for a murder in midtown Houston was a long-simmering dispute between a Galena Park cocaine dealer and a transgender woman that ended in a deadly street-corner brawl where the combatants were armed with crow bars, maces, knives and a gun, Harris County prosecutors told jurors after ending their case Wednesday.

Tariq Lackings, 32, decided to settle his differences with the woman, prosecutors said. So he enlisted a few friends late at night to track her down on a street corner in Houston’s midtown area, and started the fight that ended her life on April 10, 2016.

“Actions speak louder than words. We don’t know if he said he was going to kill them,” Jennifer Meriwether said. “We do know what he did. He went out there and he pulled the trigger.”

Immediately after closing arguments, jurors were sent to deliberate Lackings’ guilt or innocence. He faces life in prison if convicted of murder for the death of 34-year-old Shante Thompson.

Thompson, who is referred to in court records as Robert Isaac, was killed by a single gunshot wound to the side during a late-night melee on the the corner of Fannin and Dennis streets.

The murder victim’s friend, 33-year-old Willie Sims, was killed by a fatal stab wound. Prosecutors had charged Lackings with Sims’ death, but later dropped the charge.

Paul Morgan, a defense lawyer for Lackings, told the jurors during the closing arguments that the murder charge was based on a “shoddy investigation” by the police and “absurd lies” by eyewitnesses.

“This case makes no sense,” he said. “It’s shameful that someone can be thrown away for lies, falsehoods and a sloppy investigation.”

Morgan said there was no DNA evidence that Lackings was the shooter, and noted that one witness said the murder weapon was a black semi-automatic pistol and another witness said it was a silver revolver. The gun was never recovered or identified.

“The deaths of Shante Thompson and Willie Sims will forever remain in the dark—a mystery,” he said. “It was a melee that night. There were clothes and jewels and blood flying everywhere. People were stabbed. And somebody took a shot at the group.”

Since the double homicide occurred, witnesses have told police that the two groups of people had a history of confrontations. Friends and family 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 $250,000 bail, is being tried in visiting state District Judge Reagan Clark’s court. If Lackings is convicted, the punishment phase could take the rest of the week.

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