A teenager is facing a charge of first-degree murder in connection with the brutal killing of India Clarke, a Black transgender woman from Tampa.
As reported by NBC affiliate WFLA, Homicide detectives booked 18-year-old Keith Lamayne Gaillard, of Tampa, into jail after the teen turned himself in around 4:15 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Detectives charged Gaillard with first-degree murder in the death of 25-year-old Clarke, who was found murdered last Tuesday in a park outside a community center.
Detectives say Gaillard has an extensive criminal history that includes robbery, larceny, burglary and aggravated assault with a firearm. In addition to murder, Gaillard was also charged with possession of a firearm by violent career criminal.
Deputies say Clarke was found dead with gunshot wounds to the head and upper arm. The nature of Clarke's wounds suggest that they were inflicted by a .22 caliber firearm. Detectives uncovered a photo on Gaillard’s public Facebook page showing him with a similar gun. Several witnesses came forward and identified Gaillard as the person in that Facebook photo.
According to detectives, the .22 caliber revolver seen in the Facebook photo was sold to a known witness on Sunday. The firearm has since been recovered by Tampa Police.
Detectives say they located Clarke's rental car in the parking area of the park, not far from the area where her body was found. In that car, they found a used condom with fluid that was later matched positively to Gaillard.
There were also items scattered throughout the vehicle including wrappers, personal items, and paperwork. Detectives found Gaillard's fingerprints on a cigar wrapper located on the passenger side of the car.
Several witnesses have come forward to speak with detectives under oath. One claimed that Gaillard came to his home the day after the murder and confessed to killing someone.
Witnesses have also informed detectives that there was a scratch on the side of Gaillard’s neck after the homicide which was consistent with a fight.
Interviews conducted with witnesses revealed that there was a personal relationship between Gaillard and Clarke. The exact nature of that relationship is not immediately known.
Police have not released a motive in Clarke’s murder. The investigation into her death is ongoing. It is not known whether Gaillard has hired an attorney.
As reported by NBC News, the Human Rights Campaign has tracked at least ten murders of transgender women thus far in 2015. Last year, thirteen trans women were reportedly killed. All but one of those victims were trans women of color.
According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs 2014 report on LGBTQH hate crimes, trans women made up 55 percent of homicide victims in 2014, and of that figure, half were trans women of color.