Witness describes shooting in murder of Tampa drag queen

Anthony Lee 

Anthony Lee
Published July 15, 2015

TAMPA — From behind a bathroom door, Tiffany McKinney listened to the two men yelling. She heard one demanding money. She heard her friend, Anthony Jerome Lee, telling him to leave. She dialed 911 as their voices came closer.

The man, whose voice McKinney did not recognize, asked who else was in the house.

"Ain't nobody here," she heard Lee say. "Just me. "

Silence followed. Then, five gunshots.

When McKinney emerged, Lee lay on the kitchen floor in a puddle of blood.

McKinney recounted the harrowing tale on the witness stand Tuesday, the first day of the trial of Deandre Tolliver in Hillsborough Circuit Court.

Tolliver, 26, is accused of murder in the May 2013 death of Lee, 44, who was well known for his performances as a drag queen named Wanda. Lee was a regular at Hamburger Mary's in Ybor City.

On the witness stand, McKinney said Lee was making her dinner in the kitchen of her home while she played a game on a computer. They were alone when they heard a knock. Lee said he would answer it.

"You ain't going to bust your way into no house like that," she heard Lee say.

As a loud struggle continued, she stepped to the bathroom.

"I asked God to forgive me my sins and that I was going to die today," she testified.

In court, prosecutors played an audio recording of her panicked 911 call.

Through heavy breaths, she whispered: "He's still in the house. Please! Please!"

When she stopped speaking, a call taker asked her to communicate by dialing buttons.

"If someone is breaking into your house, press one."

The call disconnected. McKinney heard the gunshots.

She stayed quiet until she heard her daughter pull up in a truck outside. Together, they walked back through the kitchen, where they found Lee.

McKinney knelt down. Lee struggled to talk.

"But he couldn't," McKinney said. "And I seen the gunshot wound in his head."

On the witness stand, she wept.

As paramedics rushed Lee to Tampa General Hospital, she, too, was taken in as she suffered a heart attack, she said.

McKinney later told detectives her purse, wallet, car keys and a computer were missing from the home. They asked if she knew Tolliver. She said no.

Samethia Stephens, who lives across the street, also testified Tuesday that she saw a black Dodge Magnum pull up to the house minutes before the shooting. Two men were in the car. The driver got out and went into the house.

She heard gunshots. The man emerged with what looked like a gun, she said. He got back in the car and the two sped off.

Detectives later showed her a series of photos. One of them, Stephens said, looked like the man she had seen going into the house.

Tolliver is charged with first-degree murder, armed robbery, and burglary. If convicted, he faces life in prison.

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The trial is expected to last the rest of this week.

Contact Dan Sullivan at or (813) 226-3386. Follow @TimesDan.