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On verge of trial, capital murder suspect removes ankle monitor and goes missing, sources say

Tyrese Simmons, 23, is accused of killing 9-year-old Brandoniya Bennett in 2019 while trying to shoot a rival rapper.

DALLAS — Law enforcement sources confirm to WFAA that a man has removed his ankle monitor and gone missing in advance of a murder trial he was set to face beginning this week.

Tyrese Simmons, 23, is accused of shooting and killing 9-year-old Bradoniya Bennett in August 2019 during an exchange of gunfire with a rival rapper who lived next door to Bennett's family in East Dallas.

Police said Simmons, then an aspiring 19-year-old rapper, was upset over lyrics used in a song by another 17-year-old performer with whom he had "an ongoing feud," and went to confront his rival with a gun in tow and revenge on his mind. 

During an exchange of gunfire, officials said, Bennett was shot in the head and killed while sitting on a sofa. 

“It is believed that the suspect mistakenly fired at the wrong apartment unit after running around the building to the back of the apartment complex," Simmons' arrest warrant said.

A day after Bennett's death, Simmons turned himself in on a capital murder charge.

A second man named Davonte Benton, also 19 at the time of the shooting, was also arrested on capital murder charges for his involvement in Bennett's death. He was convicted on those charges in a trial last year and was sentenced to 45 years in prison. He has since filed for a new trial.

Bennett's death spark outrage in the community, with leaders calling for a week of peace and prayer in light of the wake of the senseless violence that took her life.

Simmons' trial was set to begin Monday. 

Law enforcement has not been able to locate him since he removed his ankle monitor.

There is an active warrant out for his arrest.

In late May, a bill filed by State Rep. Rafael Anchía (D-Dallas) aimed at making it a crime to cut off ankle monitors was signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott.  

That legislation was filed in response to the tragic October 2022 shooting at Methodist Hospital Dallas. The suspect in that deadly shooting, Nestor Hernandez, was on parole and wearing an ankle monitor when it happened.

Lawmakers and law enforcement officials were outraged that Hernandez was on the streets since he had violated his parole multiple times by failing drug tests, missing curfew and cutting off his ankle monitor.

For the time being, it isn't a crime in Texas to cut off your ankle monitor; it's only an administrative violation. But, after passing through the 88th Legislative Session and Abbott signing it, Senate Bill 1004 will soon become a criminal violation.

WFAA dove deep into the ineffectiveness of ankle monitoring prior to the bill's passage. Authorities said that, despite repeated violations, violent felons were not being effectively tracked.

"Violent criminals were thumbing their nose at the system in the process. Because if they wanted to commit a crime, the ankle monitor was not going to stop them," Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia told WFAA.

The Methodist Dallas Medical Center shooting was among many instances in Texas where a suspect was arrested after their ankle monitor was cut off. 

A 37-year-old man charged for the 2019 murder of his wife disappeared and was recaptured in San Antonio back in March.

Also in March, 29-year-old Wahib Sadek Hamed – who was charged in a brutal assault at a Cleburne, Texas, hotel – vanished after cutting off his ankle monitor before a court date.

According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), in fiscal year 2022, there were 1,127 parole warrants executed for individuals on parole or mandatory supervision who cut their ankle monitor, Anchía's office said.

"If they mess with their ankle monitor, tamper with it or cut if off in any way, it's going to be a felony and going back to jail immediately to serve the rest of their sentence and going to put a felony on top of it," Anchía told WFAA.

Additionally, the Dallas Police Department reported 123 incidents of crimes by people wearing electronic monitoring devices in FY 2022.

Senate Bill 1004 goes into effect on Sept. 1, 2023.

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