Carlton Champion, the man who was charged with the murder trans woman Ty Underwood, was recently sentenced to life in prison.
Earlier this year, we wrote about Ty Underwood. Underwood was a 24-year-old trans woman who was killed by 21-year-old Carlton Champion, a football player for Texas College. The two were romantically and sexually involved but the facts about whether or not Champion knew of Underwood’s trans status throughout their relationship is disputed.
Authorities, who had access to Underwood and Champion’s correspondence, believe Champion knew Underwood was assigned male at birth. His father, on the other hand, said his son “thought she was female.”
Some of their correspondence showed that they planned to meet up on the night Underwood’s body was found shot, in January of this year.
According to the Tyler Morning Telegraph, during the trial, Underwood’s mother and Champion’s cousin delivered very emotional testimonies.
Underwood’s mother Yolanda Ford Underwood, used male pronouns and called Underwood Tyrone.
She said, “ He was a pretty good kid, smart kid. He was always honest. He was a normal little boy, he liked stuff little boys liked.”
At one point, she spoke specifically to Champion saying, “he really cared about you.”
She continued, “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,” Ms. Underwood said.
Champion’s cousin Denekia Johnson tried to talk about his troubled upbringing. She said that he spent half of his life in a foster home because his parents were in prison.
She testified that she believed Carlton acted out of anger and hurt and just snapped.
Defense attorney Melvin Thompson pleaded with the jury asking him to do something different than what his family had done all of their lives, show him no compassion.
The prosecutor said that Ty Underwood was shown no mercy on the night she was killed. He told jurors to set the standard for Smith County.
Champion faced between five and 99 years in prison with a $10,000 fine. The jury deliberated from 2:15 p.m. until 3:30 p.m. and decided Champion decided he deserved to serve life in prison in addition to the fine.
Champion will be eligible for parole in 2045. He said he has plans to appeal the sentence.