On May 28, 2013, 44-year-old Anthony Lee — a drag queen who went by the name South Beach Wanda — went to his friend Tiffany McKinney's house in East Tampa. He heard she was sick and came over to make her dinner. When someone knocked on the door, Lee answered it. McKinney heard an altercation and locked herself in the bathroom and called 911. But it was too late. Lee was dead. He had been shot five times at point blank range.
Friends and family remembered Lee as larger-than-life and with a serious Whitney Houston obsession. They were shocked when they heard of his death. It was unclear if it was mistaken identity or a botched home invasion. Details were slow to come out. A year after Lee's death, Tampa police arrested Deandre Tolliver for first degree murder and armed robbery.
At the trial, McKinney testified that Tolliver demanded money from Lee. Another person testified that Tolliver paid him $200 to drive him from Lakeland to Tampa. Tolliver's defense attorney stressed there was no physical evidence and that there was discrepancies among the witnesses. Tolliver sobbed when he took the stand in his own defense. "I am not the person who did this," he said.
On Thursday, more than two years after Lee's murder, a jury charged Tolliver with first-degree murder, facing up to life in prison. He will be sentenced Thursday, July 23.
On Facebook, Paul Kinchen, one of Lee's friends, wrote after hearing the verdict:
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“Sitting in court today with Wanda's Family, Power Infiniti, Power's Fiancé , and Kurt King .... You really felt like you didn't know how the verdict and results would turn out like really any other jury trial. I sat there wondering could someone actually gun someone down in cold blood with intent and really not get first degree murder? Or get a lessor offense? Or end up getting off from some reasonable doubt created? When the verdict was read and I knew in my heart that it would be what it was I suddenly not only felt reassured about our legal system.... I walked away with a feeling of HOPE and PROMISE of good things to come in the future with our legal system and police relations in general. That is how I want to remember Wanda (Anthony Jerome Lee) and would like to thank Power Infiniti and Wanda's family for allowing me to be there to see justice prevail in the end. God speed Wanda and Thanks. Love.”
Lee's close friend and fellow drag queen, Power Infiniti, wrote on Facebook: “IN A WORD.......V I C T O R Y!!”
Hamburger Mary's in Tampa, where Lee used to strut the stage as South Beach Wanda, is throwing a get together Saturday night, to “share a drink and a laugh...in honor and celebration of the one we called WANDA!”