EL PASO, Texas - Closing arguments are scheduled to begin Thursday in the trial of the Fort Bliss soldier accused of murdering a transngender woman. The defense and the State both rested their cases Wednesday afternoon.
Anthony Michael Bowden allegedly killed Erykah Tijerina by stabbing her 24 times in August 2016.
The defense claims Tijerina and Bowden met after Tijerina posted an advertisement for sexual services on Craigslist. Bowden did not know Tijerina was born a man or that she had tested positive for HIV since she was 17. Bowden also claimed Tijerina raped him.
The defense told jurors Tijerina blackmailed Bowden in the days after their encounter and threatened to expose him by posting photos of him on Craigslist.
The victim's stepfather found her dead inside her apartment at the Rio Grande Community housing complex in South-Central El Paso the night of August 8, 2016.
In court Wednesday, the defense continued to refer to the victim as Eric. Family members, including a sister of Tijerina, told ABC-7 hearing the defense continually refer to Erykah with a male pronoun was uncomfortable.
Autopsy photos of Tijerina were shown depicting various slashes, prompting her sister, Kathleen Tijerina, to clench her small dog and become teary eyed in court.
Dr. Janice Diaz, the El Paso County Medical Examiner who performed the autopsy on Tijerina, said the stab wound on her neck is likely what killed her. Diaz described Tijerina "on the larger size," referring to her height and weight.
When asked if Erykah was taking female hormones, Kathleen Tijerina told ABC-7, "At one point she did, when she was younger."
Chyna Fierros, a longtime friend of Erykah and a fellow transgender woman, also testified in court Wednesday.
The defense and prosecution showed her dating profile on an application called "Meet Me." Fierros' profile stated she was a transgender woman.
The jury was then shown chat records between Fierros and Bowden from around 10 days after Erykah was killed.
According to the chat log shown, Bowden first messaged Fierros to ask "hey, what's up with you?"
Bowden then sent Fierros a message that asked if she was "DTF," which is internet slang referring to a person who is ready to have sex.
Fierros disagreed with Bowden's approach, then said she was going to the rosary of a murdered friend.
In court Tuesday, prosecutors showed the jury a video in which Bowden confessed to killing Tijerina. The defense argued their client killed Tijerina in self-defense.
Dr. James W. Schutte testified in court he performed seven psychological tests on Bowden at the direction of his attorneys on March 14, 2017.
Schutte said Bowden's IQ was 83, which is 17 points below a normal score of 100, thus categorizing him with "borderline intellectual function."
Schutte also testified Bowden's reading level was that of a sixth grade student despite having passed high school, and attested to the fact that Bowden has Asperger's Syndrome.
During opening arguments on Tuesday, defense said Bowden graduated with a grade point average of less than 2.0.
Rebecca Tavitas, a lawyer on Bowden's defense team, asked Schutte how Bowden would react when faced with being blackmailed, as they allege he was. "Freeze, and not know what to do," Schutte said. "He perceived the threat and didn't see an alternative. He's seeing the old through a very different lens than the average person."