A girl who was no older than 16 when she hatched the robbery plot that ended Ethan Walker's life on July 26, 2016, never considered that someone might die during the crime, according to testimony at the suspected gunman's capital murder trial on Wednesday.
The suspected gunman, Latharian Merritt, 23, of Long Beach, California, is on trial for capital murder this week for fatally shooting Walker once in the stomach in Mansfield.
The remaining adult co-defendants, Sean Robinson, Ariana Bharrat and Megan Holt, are in Tarrant County jail awaiting trial.
Merritt was muscle, but her 16-year-old friend was the mastermind, said Holt, who is testifying for the state as part of a plea bargain arrangement.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Star-Telegram
The then 16-year-old, who is not being identified because she was a juvenile when the murder took place, and three of her friends tried out the robbery scheme a month before Walker's death, Holt testified.
Walker lived with Zachary Beloate at a house in the 1500 block of Aspen Court in Mansfield. The juvenile plotter, who may have been as young as 15, romantically tied herself to Beloate to advance her robbery plans, Holt said.
But it was all a lie, Holt said.
She "was leading Zach on just so she could rob him," Holt said.
Four women, including Holt, who was 17 at the time, went over to Beloate's residence to steal. The juvenile was going to have sex with Beloate to distract him and then the group would run away his marijuana, his Xanax and his cash.
The plan never worked because on the night they chose to rob Beloate there were no drugs there, Holt said.
A month later the mastermind told her crew of women that she wanted to return to the scene of the crime, Holt said.
Holt testified that she asked if they needed to have guns and the plotter said yes.
"So I called Tay-K because I knew he had guns," Holt said.
Taymor McIntyre, who is also known as the rapper Tay-K 47, enlisted the help of some of his friends, Merritt, Jalen Bell and Sean Robinson, to join in the scheme, Holt said. The juvenile plotter described the layout of the house, explained where the drugs were hidden and where any guns might be stashed, Holt testified.
People were given assignments, Holt said. Holt told the jury that she was supposed to unlock the doors and monitor the occupants.
No one was supposed to get hurt, Holt said.
"This plan didn't include anyone getting shot?" Tim Moore, Merritt's defense attorney asked, and Holt replied that he was correct.
"You needed guns because you thought that guns were in the house?" Moore asked.
But Holt replied that the guns were just there to scare people.
"Larry, (the name Merritt used) had a black Glock," Holt said. "It was a semi-automatic and it had an extended clip. It held more bullets so it stuck out."
"On the day that Walker died, Larry said that he was trigger happy, then he kind of giggled afterward while we all drove to Aspen Court," Holt said.
"Other than that he was quiet," Holt said.
When they got to the house on Aspen Court and the four men barged their way inside, the plan quickly fell apart, Holt said.
Tay-K 47 flipped over the couch shouting, "Where's the work?" Holt explained that he was looking for drugs.
One of the holdup men got into a fight with Beloate and shot him, according to testimony.
Then other gunshots rang out.
"In that moment, I thought they were shooting up the bed frame or the wall or something just to scare them," Holt said. "I wanted to get out of the house and avoid getting hit by crossfire. I heard a girl scream and someone moaning in pain."
The next morning Holt said she found out that Walker had died. The girls planned to tell police that they were victims, innocent bystanders caught in a deadly home invasion robbery instead of conspirators, Holt said.
Holt testified that she found out from her mother the next day that police had an aggravated robbery warrant for her arrest.