Suspect apprehended in drug deal murder

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Tyrin Jacquan Reliford is charged with murder. (Mugshot via Denton County Sheriff's Office)
Tyrin Jacquan Reliford is charged with murder. (Mugshot via Denton County Sheriff’s Office)

An investigation by a Lewisville detective used phone records and information from a confidential informant to identify and arrest a suspect and build a case in last month’s drug-related homicide in Southern Lewisville.

Lewisville police arrested Tyrin Jacquan Reliford, 20, of Lewisville for the February 11 murder of Christian Chapman. Reliford was taken into custody Friday afternoon, March 3. He is currently held in Denton County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bond on a murder charge, and 25,000 on an unrelated assault charge.

At 11 p.m. on the night of the homicide, police responded to what was initially called in as a hit-and-run crash. Witnesses told the 911 operator that a car had crashed into another vehicle in the parking lot at Wellington Park apartments in the 2400 block of Deer Run. The witness described a black male fleeing the scene, headed west into a neighboring apartment complex.

The responding police officer initially tried to locate the suspect in the neighboring complex. It was not until the officer approached the suspect vehicle when he saw Chapman deceased in the driver’s seat.

Chapman had been shot six times at close range, including twice in the head. According to the probable cause affidavit obtained by The Lewisville Texan Journal, six .40 caliber shell casings and three bullet projectiles found in the vehicle were examined by the Texas Department of Public Safety crime lab, and determined to have been likely fired from a Glock handgun. The trajectory of the wounds and the fact that the car’s glass was all intact lead police to believe that the shooter was in the front passenger seat.

On scene, officers interviewed a witness who heard the gunshots and crash just after he had arrived at his apartment. The witness was parked a few spots away from Chapman’s vehicle, according to the affidavit. That person told police that he was trying to unlock his apartment when he heard the commotion and saw a black man with short dreadlocks, small moustache, and a thin build run towards him. The affidavit says the witness and the assailant were face-to-face for 10-15 seconds, and the witness observed a black handgun in the person’s right hand. The affidavit describes the encounter as the assailant “trying to decide what to do next.”

Officers searching the vehicle also found 15 pills of MDMA, the drug commonly known as ecstasy. No marijuana was found in the search, though police came to believe Chapman was there to sell some.

Police recovered Chapman’s cell phone, and obtained a warrant to search it.

When Detective Scott Kelly interviewed Chapman’s family, he learned that Chapman had been recently released from prison after serving a six-year sentence for burglary and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon. Chapman was allegedly a member of the Hoover Street Crips gang, and according to the affidavit, had Crips tattoos on his neck and hands.

A family member told police that Chapman had begun to sell marijuana and ecstasy. That family member said he had connected Chapman with a Lewisville narcotics distributor that was known to police. The affidavit said that this distributor was to supply Chapman with the drugs.

Although Kelly knew that the distributor was not a match for the suspect that witnesses described fleeing, he knew that one of the distributor’s associates, a Bloods gang member, was a match for the description.

A photo lineup including that gang member’s photo was shown to the witness, who did not select him.

Police did interview the narcotics distributor’s associate, who it turned out did know about the shooting. He became a confidential informant for police, and gave them Reliford’s name. The affidavit says that the informant told police that Reliford had intended to rob Chapman of drugs that night, but that Chapman, who was at least 6-foot-1-inch, 230 pounds tried to punch Reliford. He told police that Reliford, 6-foot, 150 pounds was scared due to the size difference, and began shooting. The informant told police that Reliford’s gun was a Glock, and that he had sold it after the murder. He also told police that Reliford had changed his phone number after the shooting, fearing that his number would be in the victim’s phone.

Reliford was also the suspect in an assault case less than a week after the homicide. In that case, Reliford is accused of breaking the nose of his cousin’s boyfriend. Family members in that case provided police with a cell phone number for Reliford that Kelly was able to contact him on.

Kelly obtained the results of a forensic lab’s search of Chapman’s phone, and discovered that Chapman’s last contact was with Reliford’s phone number via text messages.

The affidavit describes the conversation between the two as Reliford texting Chapman, asking if he could buy a “zip” or ounce of marijuana. Chapman responded that he had the drug, and the two then haggled over the price, settling on $210. An hour later, Chapman drove to Wellington Park to meet Reliford at building 7. The last text message, sent eight minutes before the initial 911 call was from Reliford asking where Chapman was.

Police believe that Reliford was the shooter, and that he took the marijuana that Chapman was there to sell.

The murder charge is a first degree felony. If convicted, Reliford faces 5-99 years in prison.

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