Crime

Survivor of robbery that left friend dead testifies in Tay-K’s capital murder trial

Zachary Beloate had planned to take his girlfriend out to celebrate her birthday on the night of July 26, 2016.

So he was a little surprised when she showed up with two girlfriends in tow.

They all went into his bedroom, where they smoked marijuana along with another male friend, who had been visiting the house.

But Beloate knew something was wrong when he suddenly saw a stranger enter the house through his front door, which he always kept locked. Three others, all dressed in hoodies and masks, soon emerged from every direction.

As the strangers entered his bedroom, Beloate’s girlfriend and her two girlfriends stepped out of their way and outside the room.

“Obviously I was set up, and I knew it from that point on,” Beloate said.

Beloate’s testimony about the night he was shot and his close friend, Ethan Walker, was killed came on the third day of trial for rapper Tay-K, the last of seven defendants, who stands accused of capital murder.

Beloate’s girlfriend, who had just turned 16 the day before the home invasion, and the other five defendants have already been found guilty in the case or reached plea deals with prosecutors.

Tay-K, whose real name is Taymor McIntyre, pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of aggravated robbery by threats.

McIntyre, however, pleaded not guilty to capital murder related to Walker’s death and another count of aggravated robbery related to Beloate’s shooting.

His defense attorneys contend that although McIntyre participated in the robbery, he did not not carry a weapon and did not know that an accomplice, Latharian Merrett, would intentionally shoot Walker.

Prosecutors say the real question is how could McIntyre not have anticipated that possibility.

Beloate testified he never heard gunshots or realized that Walker, who had been playing video games in a back bedroom, had been shot, too.

“I ran over to the hallway. I see Ethan laying on the ground. He was gasping for air,” Beloate testified. “I told him, ‘You’re going to be all right.’”

Beloate said he was being treated at John Peter Smith Hospital when he heard staff working on Walker. He knew his friend had died.

“They were like, ‘We’re losing him! We’re losing him!”

Later Wednesday, jurors were shown an approximately two-and-half-hour-long recorded interview of McIntyre, taken after his initial arrest in September 2016.

In the video, McIntyre initially denies involvement in the home invasion. He later acknowledges that he rode to the Mansfield house but denied going inside. After much back and forth with investigators, he eventually admits he had come into the home and looked for drugs under a couch but left the house after not finding any.

He repeatedly told investigators that he didn’t know who shot Walker and Beloate.

Earlier in the day, Mansfield Detective Patrick Knotts testified that the investigation revealed Merritt had fired the .40-caliber shot that killed Walker and that Sean Robinson fired the .380-caliber shot that struck and wounded Beloate.

McIntyre had been released from juvenile detention in January 2017 and required to wear an ankle monitor. He was days away from a certification hearing in the case in March 2017, when he cut his ankle monitor off and ran.

During his time on the lam, officials allege McIntyre fatally shot a 23-year-old photographer in San Antonio in April 2017, then savagely beat and robbed a 65-year-old man who was walking in Arlington’s Cravens Park the next month. He is charged with capital murder and aggravated robbery in those cases.

McIntyre was arrested in June 2017 in New Jersey after a well-publicized manhunt.

Earlier Wednesday, a fugitive officer from New Jersey testified that after McIntyre’s capture, the teen claimed he had swallowed a bottle of pills and was taken to a hospital. When staff found nothing wrong with McIntyre, he then claimed that he was hearing voices.

He was given a psychiatric evaluation and kept in a psych ward for about a day and a half, under the watch of deputies, before being placed in juvenile detention, Union County Sheriff’s Investigator George Gyure testified.

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

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