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Teen charged in killing of Ghanaian immigrant working in USA as Lyft driver

BY: stltoday.com
Torian Wilson, 17, of St. Louis, was charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the shooting death Thursday, April 15, 2021 of Elijah Newman, 45, of St. Peters.
Torian Wilson, 17, of St. Louis, was charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the shooting death Thursday, April 15, 2021 of Elijah Newman, 45, of St. Peters.

 A 17-year-old American, Torian Wilson, has been charged with the murder of a Ghanaian Lyft driver, Elijah Newman, based in the United States.

Wilson faces one count of first degree murder and one count of armed criminal action.

Newman, 45, was shot and killed shortly before 11pm on Thursday night while working. It is unclear at if he was picking up or dropping off a customer.

Newman was shot in the torso and died at the scene.

According to charging documents filed Saturday, Wilson admitted to being at the scene of the shooting after police apprehended him nearby with a gun that matched a bullet casing found next to Newman’s body.

Detectives found Wilson by tracing his phone, after linking his email address to a series of recently reported carjackings of ride-hailing companies in the area, police said.

Newman, a father of five, was always dreaming up plans for a better future, said a longtime friend, Elizabeth Hylton of St. Peters. He wrote them down in a diary he kept and talked about them in video calls with his kids in his hometown of Tema, Ghana.

After coming to the U.S. a decade ago, he moved to St. Peters from New Jersey in February to start a new chapter, Hylton said. Newman applied for jobs in information technology, hoping to eventually buy a home and bring his kids here to live with him.

In the meantime, he ferried passengers for the ride-hailing company Lyft to make ends meet.

Newman had been living with Hylton and her children in St. Peters, she said.

Elijah Newman. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Hylton of St. Peters. 

Officers responding to the shooting Thursday found a bullet casing in the driver’s seat, St. Louis Officer Thomas Walsh wrote in a probable cause statement. A Lyft-branded light was on the dashboard of the vehicle.

At the shooting scene, detectives were informed of recent reports of ride-sharing company drivers being carjacked in the surrounding area, Walsh said.

Detectives searched records of ride-hailing trips and linked them to Wilson’s email address, Walsh said, though the email account was set up under the name of a “Robert Henderson.”

Detectives used a search warrant to trace Wilson’s cellphone and located him within a 1,700-meter radius of where Newman had been shot, Walsh said.

Police found Wilson with a handgun in a bag, Walsh said. The gun matched the bullet casing found by Newman’s body.

Wilson “admitted being at the scene,” Walsh said. The probable cause statement did not include more details.

In a statement, Lyft said it was assisting law enforcement with its investigation.