Rapper Tay-K was found guilty of muder and aggravated robbery charges by a jury in Tarrant County, Texas, on Friday (July 19). The 19-year-old MC (born Taymor McIntyre), who is signed to the RCA-distributed 88 Classic imprint, avoided a potential mandatory 40-year sentence on a capital murder charge but is now facing between five and 99 years in prison, according to Fort Worth's KXAS NBC 5. Sentencing in the case was scheduled to begin immediately after Friday morning's verdict.
The rapper best known for his song "The Race" was accused of taking part in a fatal home invasion and robbery in 2016, during which 21-year-old Ethan Walker was killed. During the initial proceedings earlier this week, McIntyre pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated robbery and not guilty to the capital murder charge and a separate assault charge.
KXAS reports that the jury began deliberations at 3 p.m. on Thursday after emotional testimony from Walker's mother, with the defense not calling any witnesses in the trial. In his opening statement, the rapper's attorney, Jeff Kearney, told jurors that his client had agreed to participate in the robbery, but according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, suggested that the jury would have a hard time proving that he could have anticipated that accomplice Latharian Merritt would "intentionally kill" Walker. McIntyre, who was 16 at the time of the incident but tried as an adult in the trial, was not the gunman in the killing; six others were also charged in the case.
Fox 4, however, reported that prosecutors said the rapper knew what the outcome could have been and that witnesses testified he'd asked Merritt to be in on the robbery. McIntyre is still facing another aggravated robbery charge in Tarrant County and a capital murder charge in Bexar County tied to the robbery and killing of a man at a San Antonio Chick-Fil-A in April 2017 and the robbery and beating of a 65-year-old man in Arlington, Texas, in May 2017. Those incidents happened during a nationwide manhunt triggered by the rapper cutting off his ankle monitor and going on the run; he was arrested June 30, 2017. Trials in the other two cases are still pending.
Brian W. Butcher, the attorney representing the families of Walker and two other alleged victims, said in a statement on Friday that civil lawsuits were also pending against Tay-K. “I am glad a Fort Worth jury delivered justice,” he said, according to The New York Times, adding that “justice will not be fully complete until every penny of profit from McIntyre’s music is awarded as compensation to his victims.”
"The Race" was recorded on the day of Tay's flight from authorities and posted on YouTube, debuting at No. 70 on the Billboard Hot 100 following his arrest, later climbing to the No. 44 slot and earning shout-outs from Lil Bibby, co-signs from Kodak Black and Travis Scott, and a remix from Lil Yachty, who released a freestyle over the "Race" beat. The original features the lyrics "Fuck a beat, I was tryna beat a case/ But I ain't beat that case, bitch I did the race"; the video, in which the baby-faced rapper poses with and points a gun next to his wanted poster and throws up hand signs during what looks like a house party, has been viewed more than 173 million times on YouTube.
He reportedly signed a six-figure deal with 88 Classic while behind bars and released the Santana World mixtape while incarcerated; a spokesperson for RCA could not be reached for comment at press time. The life-imitating-art story of his flight from justice and viral hit while on the lam was the subject of an episode of the musical true crime podcast Disgraceland in May 2018.