The man charged with the murder of South Beach drag queen Wanda pleaded not-guilty in Tampa circuit court yesterday. Deandre Breshaun Tolliver, who appeared before Judge Kimberly K. Fernandez, was also charged with armed robbery in the first degree and armed burglary of a dwelling with battery.
Although police believe Tolliver is one of three men involved in Wanda's murder, he is the only one to have been caught.
Police believe Tolliver was one of three men involved the murder, which took place while Lee was cooking dinner at an ailing friend's house in Tampa. Tolliver came pounding on the door with a gun in hand, police say, looking to settle a dispute with Wanda's friend who lived there; Wanda was shot instead when she answered the door.
Barbara Lee-Thomas, the victim's sister, faced Lee's alleged killer for the first time today. "It was hard, but it wasn't anything I didn't expect," she told New Times on the phone as she was leaving the courtroom.
She has vowed to attend every one of Tolliver's court appearances, even though it will mean missing work.
"I know a mother is crying for her 23-year-old punk son, but I am crying for my brother who I need justice for," Lee-Thomas wrote in a Facebook post that received an outpouring of support from family members and Wanda fans.
Lee, who was 49, drew both the ire and the admiration of South Beach club owners and fellow entertainers in the late-'90s. She called Tampa home in the years just before her death, according to Lee-Thomas.
Here's Wanda performing "I Will Survive" at Tampa's Pride on 7th two years ago:
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