WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Two women, one transgender, pleaded guilty on Thursday to charges related to the stabbing death of Winston-Salem resident Vierl L. Banks Jr., 44 years of age. Banks hired the women to perform sexual acts, but afterward refused to pay and is alleged to have attempted sexual assault.
The counsel for the defendants reported that while refusing payment, Banks attempted to sexually assault the women. The transgender woman, whose legal name is Fred Thompson III and chosen name unreported, admits to fatally stabbing Banks.
Thompson, 20, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. Katisha Smith, 34, pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact. Smith admits to cleaning and hiding the murder weapon until it was unearthed by Winston-Salem police.
Both women come from documented troubled backgrounds. Thompson, like many transgender young people, was bullied, kicked out of her home at an early age, and assaulted at homeless shelters. Smith was a victim of childhood abuse and sexual assault, and in her adult life suffered mental health issues and substance abuse problems.
Both women worked as prostitutes to support themselves financially, a profession not entirely uncommon in victims of sexual assault and abuse.
In sentencing, Judge David Hall said that he took into account that both Thompson and Smith cooperated with the police and gave statements admitting their actions. Thompson was sentenced to 13-16 years in prison, and Smith received a sentence of three to five years in prison.