Texas College Steers' football player Carlton Champion Jr., 21, was arrested and charged on Monday with the murder of Tyrone "Ty or Tyra" Lee Underwood, 24, a transgender woman found dead on a Texas street Jan. 26. Police verified Champion and Underwood had been dating within "a sexual relationship."
Police suspected Champion after Underwood's roommate told them she had been seeing a man named "Carlton" who played football for Texas College.
Police stated they uncovered messages between Champion and Underwood that made it clear they had "sexual relations" in the past, and allegedly had met the night of Underwood's killing. A jacket Champion allegedly wore on the night of the killing tested positive for blood, but it's not yet determined that it was the victim's.
Police do not consider the killing a hate crime, but, according to the Tyler Morning Telegraph, Champion's father told detectives his son didn't know Underwood was assigned male at birth.
The January 2:26 a.m. incident started as a 911 call regarding a car accident but witnesses saying they heard gun shots, according to People. Underwood, who was found in a red Toyota Camry, had jumped the curb, nearly hitting a utility pole, and was found to be shot "several times," causing the lone driver to lose control of the car.
Underwood was declared dead at the scene of the accident.
In their investigation, Officer Nathan Elliott wrote in the arrest affidavit: "According to Champion Sr., Carlton Jr. was supposed to get some type of sexual favor from the victim but realized the victim was a male." Police stated otherwise in that they said a relationship between Champion Jr. and Underwood had been ongoing for several weeks.
"All indications are that both parties, the suspect as well as the victim, knew the gender of each prior to the shooting," Martin told People.
"There's no hate crime. Evidence that was located indicate that they were both aware - through more than a friendship relationship - what they were getting into."
Underwood died, according to the arrest affidavit, after arguing with Champion over social media about whether Champion was seeing someone else.
Champion "became defensive and uncooperative," the arrest affidavit states, when confronted with a campus surveillance video that showed him leaving his campus dorm at 2:13 a.m. and returning around 2:27 a.m.
He is being held in Gregg County Jail on a $1 million bond.