Lawyer: Murder defendant shot transgender prostitute in self-defense

12:45 p.m. update: The lawyer defending a man charged with murder for shooting a transgender prostitute is presenting a self-defense case.

Attorney Jeff Senter told the jury Tuesday morning that he will show “why Mr. Rowell had to use deadly force.”

JonCasey Rowell, 30, faces up to life in prison for murdering Monica Loera after responding to an ad for sexual services on Two of Loera’s roommates testified to hearing a knock at the front door of their North Austin home in the early morning hours of Jan. 22, 2016. Loera, they said, went to the door with a coat in her hand.

About five minutes later, there was a louder knock. Loera again got up, telling one of the roommates, “I’m gonna make him leave this time.”

There was a loud bang that one of the witnesses described as sounding like a firecracker. Loera came back into the home and announced she had been shot. Medics came to the home on East Powell Lane and took Loera to the hospital where she soon was pronounced dead.

Both witnesses said they do not believe Loera was carrying a weapon when she answered the door.

Authorities connected Rowell to the shooting through cell phone records and his student ID found in Loera’s bedroom. They also discovered a pistol in his Williamson County trailer that they linked to a projectile found in the victim.

Loera’s sister testified that Loera lived as David until her mid 20s when she began dressing as a woman and taking hormones to grow breasts.

“She believed she was a woman trapped in a man’s body,” Cynthia said.

Earlier: The murder trial in the shooting death of transgender woman Monica Loera begins Tuesday in Travis County state district court.

Loera was shot at her East Powell Lane home on Jan. 22, 2016, following an argument she had with someone who came to the door, her roommate told police. Officers connected JonCasey Rowell, 30, to the shooting through a text message Loera sent him on the night of the shooting, and ID card and witness accounts, an arrest affidavit said. He is charged with murder.

Loera, who grew up in Austin as David Loera, sometimes worked as a prostitute, friends said. Police say she might have stolen from Rowell.

RELATED: Friends remember Loera as a light in dark times

Rowell, who is from Childress, was staying in a trailer park in Georgetown for a job. Loera had sent him directions to her duplex home about an hour before the shooting, according to the affidavit.

Loera’s roommate was inside the home when the shooting happened. He said he heard a knock at the door and Loera told him that it was a person that Loera did not want to “mess” with, the affidavit said. Loera opened the door and then the roommate heard what sounded like a firecracker.

This is a developing story; check back for details.

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