A Tarrant County jury is deliberating whether rapper Tay-K 47 is guilty of capital murder.
Prosecutors Jim Hudson and Bill Vassar say Tay-K, whose real name is Taymor McIntyre, should have anticipated that a co-conspirator in the home invasion robbery, Latharian Merritt, would fatally shoot 21-year-old Ethan Walker.
Defense attorneys contend that McIntyre only participated in the Mansfield robbery and had no idea that Walker would be intentionally shot.
If convicted of capital murder, McIntyre would be automatically sentenced to life in prison with the chance of parole after 40 years.
Jurors deliberated about two and a half hours Thursday before deciding to call it a night. They will resume deliberations Friday morning.
In closing arguments Thursday afternoon, Hudson said “red flags” that the home invasion would turn deadly “were right in front of his face.”
He pointed out how McIntyre had recruited Merritt to take part in the robbery, told an accomplice that Merritt liked to shoot, and was present when Merritt talked about being “trigger happy” before the robbery.
“He knew what the risks were when he got into this,” Hudson told jurors. “He knew what Larry Merritt might do. It’s not reasonable to say otherwise.”
Hudson reminded jurors how that after the robbery, a witness said McIntyre even joked about how they had at least gotten a little bit of money and a watch.
“He’s not shocked. He’s not mortified. He’s not beside himself with surprise.” Hudson said, later adding: “He didn’t care about the damage they had just caused.”
Jeff Kearney, who is defending McIntyre with attorneys Reagan Wynn and Rhett Parham, told jurors that McIntyre’s role in the robbery had only been to serve as “bag man” — going into the Mansfield house that night of Jan. 26, 2016, and grabbing the drugs and money.
“Taymor never touched, handled, loaded, cleaned, carried a firearm either before the incident that day, during the incident that day or after the incident that day,” Kearney told jurors.
Nor was there a “scintilla of evidence”, Kearney told jurors, that McIntyre ever interacted with any of the victims inside the house or threatened anyone.
He said the testimony of co-conspirator Megan Holt, who had entered into a plea deal with prosecutors, even indicated McIntyre had run outside of the home with the three females as soon as he heard a shot ring out.
Kearney said no one could have anticipated that Merritt would shoot Walker that night.
“It wasn’t part of the plan. The plan was robbery. Not killing,” Kearney said.
He asked jurors to find McIntyre not guilty of capital murder and to make their own determinations concerning whether he was guilty of lesser included charges.
Vassar called it “absolutely ludicrous” that McIntyre wouldn’t anticipate Merritt would pull the trigger, reminding jurors about Holt’s testimony that McIntyre had once told her that Merritt had shot into a car during a past robbery.
Vassar told jurors that McIntyre has shown no remorse for his actions and only plead guilty to two of the counts of aggravated robbery on Monday so that his defense attorneys could claim he’d taken responsibility.
He asked jurors to imagine themselves in the place of Walker’s parents, when they answered a 5:30 a.m. knock on the door on July 27, 2016, to receive the news from a Mansfield police captain and chaplain that their son was dead.
He finished by putting a picture of Ethan Walker and his young daughter on a screen in the courtroom, telling jurors the girl will “grow up without a father because of him.”
The state had rested its case Thursday morning after calling two witnesses, including a woman who said the rapper had asked to borrow a gun before the botched home invasion that left a man dead.
The defense called no witnesses before resting its case. The case is being tried in Criminal District Court 2 with State District Judge Wayne Salvant presiding.