College Football Player Sentenced to Life for Killing Texas Trans Woman

KLTV

A jury in Smith County, Texas, today sentenced Texas College football player Carlton Ray Champion to life in prison for the murder of his transgender girlfriend, according to the Tyler Morning Telegraph.

The same jury on Thursday convicted Champion, 21, of shooting and killing Ty Underwood January 26 in Tyler, just east of Dallas, according to the paper.

He had faced from five to 99 years, and given that remorse was one of the factors in determining his sentence, an outburst he made in court could have been a factor in his lengthy sentence, the Telegraph reports. “I’m going to be back on the streets,” Champion shouted in the courtroom before being restrained by deputies and led to a cell.

Jurors deliberated for just two hours Thursday before returning the guilty verdict against Champion, and spent only 45 minutes deciding he should spend the rest of his life behind bars, and pay a fine of $10,000.

Underwood's mother and the attorney for her killer repeatedly misgendered her in the courtroom, using male pronouns and referring to Ty as "Tyrone" and "Mr. Underwood," respectively.

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Police found Underwood early January 26 when responding to a 911 call from a woman who said her children heard gunshots and that a car had run into a telephone pole nearby. Detective Andy Erbaugh told reporters that Underwood was near or inside the car when shots were fired at it; Underwood was likely struck while she was trying to drive away. 

Champion and Underwood, 24, were dating, and the motive for the murder was reported to be jealousy on Champion's part. 

"She was lovely, just a lovely person. Very real, down-to-earth person who didn't deserve this, did not deserve this at all," Underwood's roommate Coy Simmons told Tyler TV station KYTX. "This has to be a hate crime, this has to be a hate crime, nothing else because that was an upstanding person with a good heart."

Ultimately, Underwood was a victim of domestic violence, which transgender people may experience more than others. A 2009 Massachusetts study found that 34.6 percent of transgender people surveyed had reported being threatened with physical violence by an intimate partner, compared with just 13.6 percent of than nontransgender people surveyed.

Underwood was among the first of 21 transgender women reported murdered in 2015, almost double the number known to have been killed in 2014.

Champion's lawyer indicated his client will appeal. He will be eligible for parole in 2045.

Champion had been on the football team at Texas College, located in Tyler.

Watch a report from the courthouse on today's sentencing proceedings from TV station KLTV below.

KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

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