JACKSON, Miss. — A Mississippi man who dresses and lives as a woman has been charged with depraved-heart murder after performing an illegal buttocks implant that killed a Georgia woman, authorities said Tuesday.
Morris Garner, (pictured) who also goes by the name Tracey Lynn Garner, is charged with doing the procedure in March at his house in Jackson, Miss. Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said during a news conference Tuesday that Garner had no training or license to perform such a procedure.
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Authorities said they are testing the substance that was injected into the victim and believe it may turn out to be some kind of counterfeit silicone. Hood said more people may have had breast or buttock implants performed by Garner, and he hopes those people come forward.
Morris is charged with depraved-heart murder in the death of Karima Gordon, 37, of Atlanta. Depraved-heart murder is a legal term for an action that demonstrates a “callous disregard for human life” and results in death. It carries a life sentence.
Hinds County Judge Melvin Priester denied bond after a hearing Tuesday afternoon. Garner was arrested Sept. 6, according to jail records.
“Based on the seriousness of the charge, the court does find that you are a danger to yourself, and more importantly, a danger to the community,” the judge said.
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After the hearing, Garner’s lawyer, John Colette, said he was “shocked” by the seriousness of the charge and the fact that his client was held without bond. He denied his client is guilty of depraved-heart murder.
Garner said during court that he is 53-years-old and worked as a floral and interior designer. He wore a yellow prison jumpsuit and shackles, and his hair was in a short ponytail.
Colette said Garner had undergone operations to change gender.
Hood referred to Garner as a man, and Garner was booked into the Hinds County jail as a man.
Hood said that Gordon, who had served in the military and wanted to become a model, found Garner after meeting someone on the Internet known to authorities only as “Pebbles.” Gordon met Pebbles in person in New York City and paid her $200 for the referral to Garner, according to Hood.
Hood said his investigators were looking for Pebbles.
The Associated Press found a Twitter account in Gordon’s name from which only one message had been sent, and it was to a Pebbelz Da Model in December. The Twitter account of Pebbelz Da Model had a link to an explicit website by the same name. Nobody immediately responded to an email sent to the website. The website said money orders for access to its contents can be sent to an address in Lakeland, Tenn.
Hood’s office had no comment on whether Pebbelz Da Model is the same person his investigators were looking for.
Gordon was an adult entertainer in Atlanta and had undergone other cosmetic procedures, Colette said, though he didn’t elaborate. He said he had only recently taken the case and was still trying to find out more about it.
Gordon drove to Mississippi with a friend to have the procedure, but became ill a few hours later. Her friend called Garner and asked what to do, and he told them to buy some cough medicine, Hood said. Gordon died at a Georgia hospital a few days later.
“We’ve had people practicing medicine without a license, but nothing like this,” Hood said.
Deaths from illegal cosmetic procedures have happened sporadically around the country as people seek cheaper alternatives to plastic surgeons. A New Jersey woman pleaded not guilty Tuesday after authorities charged her with giving a man a fatal dose of silicone during a penile enhancement procedure in May. Prosecutors say the suspect in that case had no medical training.