The Florida woman charged with administering a silicone injection that killed popular Atlanta transgender performer Lateasha Shuntel has pleaded guilty to eight felonies related to her death and injections to three other people.
Deanna Roberts, 47, pleaded guilty to four felony counts of possessing, transporting, and illegally injecting persons with liquid silicone and four felony counts of introducing into interstate commerce liquid silicone, according to federal prosecutors. Shuntel died two days after the injection from Roberts.
“Roberts admitted that she caused the death of one person by injecting her with liquid silicone, and that she also injected liquid silicone into multiple other people, putting their lives at considerable risk,” U. S. Attorney John Horn said in a prepared statement issued Tuesday.
Roberts was also charged with injecting silicone into three other women – at least two of whom lived in Atlanta – between October 2014 and November 2015. They did not die from the injections.
Roberts was arrested last May at her home in Sanford, Fla. A federal grand jury indicted Roberts on eight felonies on May 11, 2016. Former friends have said that Roberts is transgender and preyed on performers in Florida and Georgia.
Prosecutors said Roberts will be sentenced on May 24.
The indictment alleged that Roberts injected liquid silicone into the buttocks of Shuntel and the hips and buttocks of a second person, identified as J.T. in court documents, at a house on Dunseath Avenue near Marietta Boulevard in northwest Atlanta on Nov. 16, 2015.
Shuntel, 45, was found dead on Nov. 18. Doraville police discovered Shuntel’s body at her residence in the 2700 block of Addison Drive, which is in a neighborhood nestled between Chamblee Tucker Road and Buford Highway. The DeKalb medical examiner later ruled Shuntel's death a homicide. The autopsy listed the cause of death as "complications of silicone polymer embolization." Silicone polymers similar to ones removed from Shuntel's buttocks were also found in her lungs, according to an Atlanta police incident report.
Prosecutors detailed the case against Roberts (second photo) in the indictment and other court records:
Between April 2004 and December 2015, Roberts purchased at least 178 gallons of liquid silicone. Liquid silicone is strictly regulated by the FDA, and may be legally injected directly into the human body only as a treatment for certain eye conditions.
In April 2004, Roberts began ordering liquid silicone from a business in Arizona. In order to purchase liquid silicone from the business, Roberts submitted an affidavit to the company in which she falsely swore that she did not intend to inject the silicone into humans. Rather she claimed that she intended to supply the silicone to a customer for use in lubricating medical equipment.
On multiple occasions, Roberts transported liquid silicone to the Atlanta area and injected it into the hips, buttocks, and other body parts of her victims. Roberts falsely claimed to her victims that she was a licensed medical practitioner.
During the evening of November 16, 2015, Roberts injected liquid silicone into the buttocks of victim [Shuntel]. The next day [Shuntel] complained of tightness in her chest and shortness of breath, symptoms that are consistent with the presence of liquid silicone in the lungs. During the early morning hours of November 18, 2015, [Shuntel], died.
Dr. Geoffrey Smith, Associate Medical Examiner for DeKalb County, performed an autopsy on [Shuntel]. Based upon the autopsy Dr. Smith determined that [Shuntel] died from complications due to silicone polymer embolization. Dr. Smith found that L.H.’s lungs were heavily congested with liquid silicone. In addition, Dr. Smith found liquid silicone in [Shuntel]’s liver, kidney, heart, brain, and spleen. Dr. Smith noted that each of [Shuntel]’s buttocks had 10 injection sites.
From a microscopic examination of tissue surrounding one of the injection sites Dr. Smith determined that a blood vessel had been punctured. The evidence, therefore, established that the defendant punctured the blood vessel with one of the silicone injections and that the silicone was carried by the blood stream to [Shuntel]’s lungs and other organs causing her death.
• On November 16, 2015, the defendant illegally injected liquid silicone into the buttocks of victim J.T.
• In November of 2014, the defendant injected liquid silicone into the buttocks of victim V.M.
• In October of 2014, the defendant injected liquid silicone into the face of victim S.P.