Rapper Tay-K pleads guilty to aggravated robbery, capital murder trial underway

Rapper Tay-K recruited the man who fatally shot a 21-year-old during a 2016 botched home invasion and was present when the man remarked that he was “trigger happy” during a meeting to plan the robbery, an accomplice testified Tuesday.

Tay-K 47, whose real name is Taymor McIntyre, is on trial this week for capital murder for his alleged involvement in the robbery that left Ethan Walker fatally shot and another man wounded.

McIntyre pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of aggravated robbery by threats in the robbery of Walker’s girlfriend and another man inside the home.

But he pleaded not guilty to capital murder and to a separate count of aggravated robbery for the robbery and shooting of Walker’s roommate, Zachary Beloate, who was shot in the shoulder during the robbery but survived.

At issue is whether McIntyre anticipated or should have anticipated that a murder would be committed when he participated in the robbery at the Mansfield home.

Jeff Kearney, one of McIntyre’s three defense attorneys, told jurors in opening statements Tuesday morning that “Tay agreed to participate in a robbery. Tay participated in a robbery.”

For that, Kearney told the jurors, McIntyre has “accepted responsibility” through his plea.

But Kearney told jurors the evidence will not support the conclusion that McIntyre would or should have anticipated that Latharian Merritt “was going to go in and intentionally kill for no reason, intentionally kill Ethan Walker.”

The robbery scheme

Prosecutor Jim Hudson, who is trying the case along with Bill Vassar, told jurors that McIntyre was “enthusiastic” when brought into the robbery scheme and, when warned by his female accomplices that there might be a gun inside Beloate’s house, replied, ‘Hey, no problem. We can take care of that.’”

He recruited three friends to participate in the robbery who brought two guns and a set of brass knuckles to the robbery.

Hudson told jurors there would be a lot of talk in this trial about what McIntyre should have anticipated.

The real question, Hudson said, is, “How could he not have?”

Tuesday afternoon, Megan Holt took the stand wearing an olive green Tarrant County jail jumpsuit.

Holt previously entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors, agreeing to testify against her co-defendants in exchange for a guilty plea to a lesser charge of aggravated robbery and a 20-year prison sentence.

Holt said she, Ariana Bharrat, and a juvenile conspirator had tried to rob Beloate, the juvenile’s boyfriend, roughly a month before the deadly home invasion. She said the plan had been for the then 15-year-old juvenile to distract Beloate by having sex with him while the two older girls stole the drugs.

But Beloate didn’t have any drugs then so the robbery attempt was a bust.

Holt said, in late July 2016, the juvenile girl proposed they try to rob Beloate again, believing he now had marijuana, Xanax and cash in the home.

Holt said she asked the girl if they needed a gun and that the girl responded yes because she believed there was a gun inside the home.

Holt testified she messaged McIntyre, whom she’d met at a party the previous summer and with whom she sometimes hung out.

“Hey, we need straps because we got a lick,” Holt said she messaged McIntyre, meaning they needed guns because they were planning a robbery.

Holt said McIntyre wanted more details and soon recruited three other men — Merritt, Sean Robinson and Jalen Bell.

Holt said during this conversation, McIntyre used emojis to indicate Merritt liked to shoot.

Holt testified when they later met at an apartment with the males to plan the robbery, Merritt had a .40-caliber Glock with an extended clip on it. Sean Robinson had a .38-caliber gun and Jalen Bell had brass knuckles.

Holt said McIntyre did not have a weapon.

“He was kind of scared. He wanted to make sure that his friends had his back if something was to go wrong because he was walking in there unarmed,” Holt testified. “Scared isn’t the right word. Maybe a little nervous. Unsure.”

Holt testified that at the same meeting, Merritt remarked in front of everyone that he was “trigger happy.”

Under cross examination, Kearney pointed out that Holt had previously told officials and testified that Merritt was laughing when he said he was “trigger happy,” indicating he was joking.

McIntyre standing trial as adult

McIntyre, now 19, was one of seven defendants — three juveniles and four adults — accused in the robbery and fatal shooting. McIntyre was 16 when Walker was killed but he later was certified to stand trial as an adult.

The other six defendants were either found guilty or took plea deals.

The home invasion occurred July 26, 2016, at a residence in the 1500 block of Aspen Court, where Walker had been staying with Beloate and two other men. The house belonged to Beloate’s father.

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Ethan Walker Walker Family

Holt said the plan was for the females to go inside first, check out who was inside and unlock the doors, and update the males via text messages when to come to inside.

But she testified the group aborted their first attempt because there were too many people inside the home.

They tried again later that night, she testified.

She said McIntyre had been tasked with finding the drugs and money but found nothing when he searched under a couch, where it was supposed to be hidden.

The females were going inside the room with McIntyre when they heard gunshots ring out and fled the house.

When later questioned by police, Holt said she initially lied to Mansfield police — the same police department where her mother worked as a secretary — and pretended to be among the robbery victims.

Kearney insinuated that Holt was only testifying to what prosecutors wanted to hear to spare spending the rest of her life behind bars. Had Holt been convicted of capital murder, she would have received life in prison with no chance of parole.

“In a pine box is the only way you would get out,” Kearney said.

Holt insisted she was telling the truth.

Alyssa Rowell, Walker’s girlfriend at the time of his death, testified that Walker was playing video games and she was scrolling on her phone in a bedroom when a man dressed in all black and wearing a bandana over part of his face rounded the corner with a gun.

Rowell said she was “in shock and I was confused.”

“My life flashed before my eyes and I didn’t know what to do really,” Rowell testified.

Rowell said the man waved a gun around and ordered her and Walker onto the ground, demanding, “Where’s the s---?”

After Walker responded, “There’s nothing here,” she said the man demanded their cellphones.

Rowell testified that she and Walker both gave the man their cellphones and that neither resisted.

“The guy asked asked again, ‘Where’s the s---?’ and then he shot Ethan,” Rowell said.

Rowell said Walker had had his hands up when he was shot in the stomach.

“His intestines were coming out of his bullet wound,” Rowell said.

Rowell said the shooter then fled the room. Rowell testified she then hid in a closet, afraid the shooter would come back. She said she was unable to help.

“He was moaning and asking for help and trying to crawl out the door,” Rowell said.

Rowell said she later saw an injured Beloate run into the room, grab a gun from under the mattress and run back outside. She said she then moved to Beloate’s room, farther back into the house, where she saw a phone on the bed.

She said she grabbed the phone, hid in a closet with another man who had been inside the house during the robbery, and called 911.

A recording of Rowell’s 911 call was then played for jurors.

“Somebody came in and shot. Please send help now. Please,” a panicked Rowell could be heard whispering to the 911 call-taker.

Murder charge in Bexar

If convicted of capital murder, McIntyre would automatically be sentenced to life in prison with the chance of parole after 40 years.

If convicted of a lesser crime, he is asking the jury to consider probation.

The rapper is also charged in a second capital murder case out of Bexar County and an aggravated robbery case in Tarrant County that occurred after McIntyre cut off his ankle monitor and fled while on home arrest for the Mansfield case.

While on the loose, officials allege McIntyre robbed and fatally shot 23-year-old Mark Saldivar at a Chick-fil-A in San Antonio on April 23, 2017.

The next month, he allegedly attacked and robbed 65-year-old Skip Pepe as Pepe walked along Fish Creek Trail in Arlington’s Cravens Park.

After a national manhunt, McIntyre was captured in New Jersey in June 2017.

Since his incarceration, he has been accused of trying to start a jail gang and charged with possessing a prohibited item — a cellphone — inside a correctional facility.

McIntyre was dressed in a white button-down shirt and khaki pants Tuesday and looking older than he appeared in his well-publicized mugshot.

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For 23 years, Deanna Boyd has covered crime for the Star-Telegram. She digs deep into the stories behind the tragedies and hosts Out of the Cold, a podcast about unsolved murders in North Texas. She is a University of Texas at Austin graduate and has won several journalism awards through the years.