A man pleaded guilty to murder Monday morning for the slaying of Muhlaysia Booker, a transgender woman who was fatally shot in 2019.
Kendrell Lavar Lyles, 37, was sentenced to 48 years in prison after accepting a deal with prosecutors. He faces two additional murder charges in Collin County, according to court records.
“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,” said Booker’s mother Stephanie Houston.
Booker, 22, was found about 6:30 a.m. May 18, 2019, in the 7200 block of Valley Glen Drive, near Ferguson Road in Far East Dallas. A month prior, a video that circulated online showed Booker being punched and kicked repeatedly in the parking lot of an apartment complex. She suffered a concussion and broken wrist from the beating.
“The resolve was correct,” Lyles’ attorney, Richard Franklin, told The Dallas Morning News from inside the downtown Dallas courtroom. Jury selection was slated to begin Monday.
The Dallas County District Attorney’s office declined to comment.
Family and friends of Booker are expected to face her killer and make victim impact statements Thursday.
Police wrote in an arrest-warrant affidavit that Booker had been picked up in South Dallas about three hours earlier by someone in a light-colored early 2000s Lincoln LS without a front license plate.
A witness who picked Lyles out of a photo lineup told police he was known to frequent the 2800 block of Lagow Street “to meet with transgender prostitutes,” the affidavit said. Another person confirmed that a champagne-colored 2001 Lincoln LS parked in front of a West Dallas apartment building belonged to Lyles.
Police searched Lyles’ cellphone records and determined his phone was in the area at the time of the shooting and that it then was in the same areas as Booker’s phone afterward, according to the affidavit.
Lyles also faces charges in the slayings of 35-year-old Leticia Grant and 29-year-old Kenneth Cichocki.
Grant was found May 22, 2019, outside the Chatham Court Apartments in the 7800 block of McCallum Boulevard in Far North Dallas. She had been shot in the head and died two days later.
According to police, Lyles had been in communication with Grant shortly before her death and his cellphone was in the area where she was found. A witness also told police they had confronted Lyles after learning of Grant’s death, and Lyles admitted to being in the area when she was shot but denied shooting her, according to an affidavit.
A little more than 24 hours after Grant’s shooting, police said Cichocki was shot in a nearby AutoZone parking lot.
Police wrote in an affidavit that Cichocki had been in contact with Lyles on Facebook Messenger about the sale of Xanax earlier that night. He sent a message at 10:09 p.m. saying he was at the parking lot, and was found six minutes later with a gunshot wound to his neck, police said.
A witness who was in the car with Lyles at the time of the shooting told police Cichocki leaned into the driver’s side window and the witness “almost immediately heard a gunshot,” an affidavit says. The witness, who told police she didn’t know why Cichocki had come up to her car, drove away. Cichocki died six days later.