Texas college football player Carlton Champion Jr. had everything. A rising college football career, friends, and a new girlfriend.
When the 21-year-old found out that his girlfriend, 24-year-old Tyrone Lee Underwood who went by the name Tyra, was really a male the athlete shot Underwood to death.Tyler police were called by neighbors who reported hearing gunshots in the area and a suspicious vehicle. Police found a red Toyota Camry off the road, and there was a dead black male behind the wheel who had been shot and who was dead when police arrived.
After some investigation and interviewing Underwood”s friends police determined that the victim had been chatting with an athlete named Carlton using a mobile app. Carlton and Underwood had been chatting through the app for several weeks, and police believe that the athlete thought he was talking with a female. On the night of the murder Underwood and Carlton had a disagreement over whether Champion was seeing or talking to someone else, and Tyra told Carlton that she no longer wanted to see him in a message. Carlton responded “I will make it up”, and arranged to meet Underwood. Police viewed surveillance video from the college which showed Champion leave the dorm right before 2 am on the night of the murder, and coming back around 15 minutes later. A jacket that the athlete was wearing during the time period of the murder tested positive for blood.
Ty Underwood’s mother Yolanda Ford Underwood was the only witness for the state. She uses male pronouns to talk about Tyrone. “He was a pretty good kid, smart kid. He was always honest. He was a normal little boy, he liked stuff little boys liked.” Underwood testified to her relationship with Tyrone, “me and Tyrone were pretty tight.” At one point, Underwood addressed Champion, “he cared about you.” “This turned our life upside down. We all said to each other it’s going to be a good year. He was living his dreams,” Underwood said. The defense called Champion’s cousin Denekia Johnson to testify. She said Champion spent half of his life in a foster home because his parents were in prison all of the kids’ lives. “I believe Carlton did this out of anger, out of hurt. I feel like he just snapped,” Johnson said. Prosecutors are asking the jury to give a life sentence and a fine of $10,000. “He was being supervised by a felony probation officer when he did this. There’s no reassurance at all that if supervised, the community would be safe. Champion has no remorse, no regrets. If we could do longer for somebody like champion, I’d ask for longer,” Prosecutor Jacob Putman said.
Carlton Champion will spend life in prison for the murder of transgender woman Ty Underwood. The jury deliberated two hours after hearing three days of testimony. Deputies locked down the courtroom as they surrounded and removed Carlton Champion by force.