The man charged with beating transgender woman Muhlaysia Booker at a Dallas apartment complex in April has been convicted of misdemeanor assault and sentenced to 300 days in jail.
The verdict comes after a trial that saw the victim repeatedly deadnamed and misgendered by defense attorneys, who called the attack a fight between two men. Booker was shot to death a month later; a different man awaits trial in her murder.
In the assault trial, a jury Monday found Edward Dominic Thomas, 29, guilty of misdemeanor assault, reduced from the original charge of felony assault with a deadly weapon, that being his fists, The Dallas Morning News reports. His 300-day sentence includes time served and the condition that he cannot appeal the verdict.
Booker was attacked by a mob in the parking lot of a Dallas apartment complex April 12 after a minor traffic accident. The assault was caught on video, which was viewed widely online. It shows Thomas punching her repeatedly and others stomping on her face. The assailants used misogynistic and homophobic slurs toward her. She sustained a broken wrist and a concussion.
Thomas’s defense team portrayed the attack as “mutual combat” between two men, according to the Morning News. His lawyers contended that Booker’s injuries weren’t serious and that Thomas didn’t necessarily cause them. Prosecutors pointed out that Thomas outweighed Booker by 80 pounds and that he hit her multiple times. “He threw a punch, he threw 20 punches, he threw 26 punches,” lead prosecutor Robert Withers told jurors, adding that Booker’s injuries weren’t worse because she was tough.
Defense lawyers asked the jury to either acquit Thomas or convict him of the misdemeanor charge. The jury did the latter, taking a middle ground between the felony conviction and acquittal.
Last week, Judge Hector Garza found one of Thomas’s defense attorneys, Andrew Wilkerson, in contempt of court for “repeated outbursts” in the courtroom. Wilkerson was fined $500 and sentenced to 14 days in jail but was freed on bond.
After the verdict, Thomas’s mother, Alicia Thomas, told the Morning News, “I feel overwhelmed — relieved. I’m just happy with the outcome. And I want to say I’m sorry to the Booker family. And I hope justice is served for the loss of their child.”
Booker’s family declined comment to the media. Kendrell Lavar Lyles awaits trial in her murder.
She is one of at least 20 trans Americans murdered this year, all but one of them women of color. She is also one of two in Dallas; Chynal Lindsey was found dead in a lake days after Booker’s death. Another Dallas trans woman, Daniela Calderon, survived a shooting in the city in September. Texas leads the nation in anti-trans violence.
Constant reports of violence against our community are difficult to read, especially as we continue to face historic rates. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach out to the Anti-Violence Project’s free bilingual (English/Spanish) national hotline at (212) 714-1141 or report online for support.