By Holbrook Mohr/The Associated Press
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi man who dresses and lives as a woman has been charged with depraved-heart murder after performing an illegal buttock implant that killed a Georgia woman, authorities said Tuesday.
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said 52-year-old Morris Garner, who also goes by the name Tracey Lynn Garner, performed the procedure in March at his house in Jackson, Miss. Hood said Garner had no training or license to perform such a procedure.
Authorities are testing the substance that was injected into the victim and said they 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.
Hood said Garner had undergone some kind of procedure to change his appearance to that of a woman, but Hood referred to Garner as a man. Garner was also booked into the Hinds County jail as a man.
It wasn’t immediately clear if Garner had a lawyer. Calls to his house weren’t answered Tuesday.
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 want to talk to Pebbles.
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.