Metro Weekly

Jury convicts Dallas man in videotaped assault on trans murder victim Muhlaysia Booker

Jury convicted Edward Thomas on a misdemeanor charge of assault, rather than a felony charge

Muhlaysia Booker – Photo: NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth.

A Dallas man has been found guilty of misdemeanor assault for beating up transgender murder victim Muhlaysia Booker.

The violent altercation in April that was captured on video and shared to social media, shocking many in the Dallas metro area, as well as around the country.

Edward Thomas faced a felony charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for beating up 23-year-old Booker after she was involved in a minor traffic accident.

According to prosecutors, Booker initially fled the scene of the accident but was followed by the driver to a nearby housing project. There, a mob of people began to gather.

Police previously claimed that Thomas was offered $200 to beat up Booker. The video, which went viral, shows Thomas walking over to Booker and punching her multiple times while a crowd of onlookers from a nearby housing project gathers around.

Booker puts her hands up to defend herself, but is punched and stomped on multiple times by people in the mob, who yell homophobic slurs at her and encourage others in the crowd to harm her.

Related: Dallas police claim suspect was paid $200 to beat up transgender woman

At one point, Booker breaks free and stumbles a few feet before Thomas begins punching her again. Thirty seconds and two punches to the face later, Booker loses consciousness and is dragged away by four women.

Booker was later treated for a broken wrist, several face fractures, and a concussion.

During Thomas’ trial, prosecutors alleged that he was guilty of using his hands as a “deadly weapon” when he attacked Booker, whom the 6’7″ Thomas outweighed by more than 80 pounds. They claim Booker never had a chance to defend herself from the repeated punches thrown by Thomas.

Thomas’ lawyers portrayed the fight as “mutual combat” between two men, even going so far as to refer to Booker using her birth name and male pronouns. They claimed that Booker had provoked Thomas during the altercation.

Defense attorney Andrew Wilkerson argued that the state never proved Thomas’ punches caused Booker’s injuries, which he downplayed as mere scratches, arguing that the jury should either acquit Thomas or convict him of a lesser charge of misdemeanor assault.

Throughout the trial, Wilkerson was reprimanded multiple times by District Judge Hector Garza for “continued outbursts” in front of the jury, eventually prompting Garza to sentence him to 14 days in jail and a $500 fine for contempt of court.

Video showing the beating of Muhlaysia Booker – Photo: ABC 7 – Dallas-Fort Worth.

Ultimately, the jury decided to convict Thomas on the lesser charge. He was sentenced to 300 days in jail, including time served, on the condition he not appeal the ruling. Because he’s been in jail since his arrest in April, that means he has about four months left to serve.

Thomas’ mother, Alicia Thomas, told reporters she was “relieved” after the jury issued its verdict and her son avoided the felony conviction.

“I’m just happy with the outcome,” she said. “And I want to say, I’m sorry to the Booker family. And I hope justice is served for the loss of their child.”

Booker was found shot to death a little more than a month after the attack. Another man, Kendrell Lavar Lyles, has been arrested in connection with her murder and is currently awaiting trial.

Read more:

Tennessee county commissioner calls Pete Buttigieg a “queer” during anti-gay rant

South Carolina restaurant called police on trans woman for using women’s restroom

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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