Maryland man found guilty in killing of transgender woman

Photos of Zella Ziona. On the far left is her mother, Tyshika Smith. (Family photos/Family photos)

GAITHERSBURG, Md. (AP) — A man has been found guilty of fatally shooting a transgender woman near a Maryland shopping mall nearly two years ago.

Media outlets report 22-year-old Rico LeBlond of Germantown was convicted of first-degree murder Tuesday in the killing of 21-year-old Zella Ziona. Police say the two had known each other for years.

Ziona had transitioned from male to female in the months before she was shot in a service alley behind a Gaithersburg mall.

Authorities say LeBlond was embarrassed when Ziona flirted with him in front of friends. They say she was lured into the alley and shot several times by LeBlond.

LeBlond's first trial ended in a mistrial in January. His attorney says several witnesses have given different accounts of how Ziona died.

LeBlond faces a maximum life sentence.

Copyright 2017 The Gayly - 7/25/2017 @ 7:25 p/m. CDT