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An Arkansas man has been sentenced to 50 years in prison after pleading guilty to killing a transgender teen with whom he was involved romantically, in what authorities claim was an attempt to cover up their relationship.
Trevone Hayse Miller, 20, of Sherwood, Arkansas, pleaded guilty to a charge of first-degree murder for shooting 17-year-old Brayla Stone, a transgender woman, in the head and leaving her body in a parked vehicle near a walking path near Gap Creek Drive in the city of Sherwood, just 10 miles north of Little Rock, on June 25, 2020. Police arrested Miller within a week of Stone’s killing, and never identified any other suspects publicly.
The charge of first-degree murder was reduced from a charge of capital murder, which could have potentially carried a death sentence or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Now, under the reduced charge, imposed by Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Barry Sims, Miller will have to serve at least 35 years of his 50-year sentence before becoming eligible for parole, reports the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
According to a prosecutor’s report published by the Arkansas Times that was signed on August 3, prosecutors claimed that Miller killed Stone to “keep Ms. Stone from revealing that they were in a sexual relationship.” That statement contradicts previous statements by authorities saying they did not believe Stone’s death was motivated by bias or her gender identity in any way.
Detectives with the Sherwood Police Department reported that, in the course of their investigation, friends and acquaintances of Miller told them that he was afraid people would think he was gay if Stone disclosed the nature of their relationship publicly.
According to an arrest affidavit, the manager at the Arby’s restaurant where Miller worked, Lekeia Tutt, told police that Miller had not shown up for his shift, instead calling her and telling her, “I messed up and won’t be back for a very long time, if ever.” When she pressed him for details, he told her to watch the news. Tutt then called police after hearing abut the discovery of Stone’s body.
Audrey Jackson, a friend of Stone’s, told police that Stone had discovered that Miller was having a relationship with a 19-year-old woman the day before she was found dead. Jackson claimed Miller had texted Stone to meet him, and that she had been talking to Stone on the phone while she was waiting for Miller in front of his home. The phone call ended with Stone telling her, “here he comes,” according to the affidavit. She received a text message from Stone five hours later saying that Stone was “not up for this.”
Jackson later claimed that Stone had told other people about her relationship with Miller, even though Miller had allegedly been paying Stone to keep quiet about their relationship. She also told police the location where Stone’s body was found was significant because Miller had frequented the location for past sexual liaisons.
Tionne Foreman, the woman Miller had been seeing, told police that Miller told her Stone was going to expose him, that feared being labeled “gay,” and that he had said he was planning to kill Stone, although Foreman and her friends — who reportedly overheard similar comments — did not take his threats seriously, according to the Democrat-Gazette.
Miller had previously been charged with capital murder in the slaying of another 17-year-old resident, Bryant Thompson, in 2016, at age 14, but cut a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to aggravated robbery in juvenile court in exchange for testifying against two co-defendants. He never ultimately testified because the two co-defendants later pleaded guilty to charges of murder. He had also been charged with identity theft and firearms possession just three months prior to Stone’s murder, but was released shortly after his arrest.
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