Norfolk Man Convicted of Murder, Sentenced to More Than 13 Years Following 2019 Catfishing Ambush
NORFOLK, Va. – Today, 22-year-old Tyron Antonio Whitaker was sentenced in Norfolk Circuit Court to an active 13 years and four months in prison after pleading guilty to murdering 51-year-old Brian Peden Austin in 2021. Mr. Austin had been lured into meeting with who he thought was a woman from a dating app when Mr. Whitaker fatally shot him.
The night of May 21, 2019, Mr. Whitaker shot Mr. Austin after attempting to break into Mr. Austin’s car. Mr. Austin had driven to and parked in the 200 block of West Balview Avenue to meet with whom he believed to be a woman from a dating app. The bullet struck Mr. Austin in his left shoulder and chest, and Mr. Austin died in the driver’s seat of his car as Mr. Whitaker fled. It is unclear whether Mr. Austin ever exited his vehicle or put up a fight against Mr. Whitaker.
Norfolk Police investigators discovered Mr. Austin had recently been in contact with a woman named “Summer,” but the number that Mr. Austin had been texting belonged to a male friend of Mr. Whitaker’s. Cell phone location records from Mr. Whitaker’s friend posing as “Summer” did not place him at the scene of the crime. The last messages between Mr. Austin and “Summer” involved “Summer” directing Mr. Austin to park in a nearby and poorly lit parking lot and Mr. Austin responding that he preferred to park under a streetlight so as not to get ambushed.
Soon after the shooting, Mr. Whitaker and his family moved out of the Hampton Roads area. On Dec. 19, 2019, Mr. Whitaker’s mother’s boyfriend came forward to Norfolk Police with information regarding a Balview Avenue homicide that had occurred toward the end of May 2019. He told police that, the day after the murder, Mr. Whitaker stated to him that he had attempted to break into a vehicle on Balview Avenue, that the owner of the vehicle confronted him, and that he shot the man. Mr. Whitaker was arrested on Sept. 10, 2020.
During what was initially docketed on Friday to be Mr. Whitaker’s pre-jury trial hearing, Mr. Whitaker pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, and Judge David W. Lannetti accepted his plea. Pursuant to Mr. Whitaker’s plea agreement, Judge Lannetti sentenced Mr. Whitaker to 13 years and four months in prison, with an additional 10 years suspended on the conditions that Mr. Whitaker complete 10 years of uniform good behavior and an indeterminate period of supervised probation.
“Tyron Whitaker lured the victim, intended to rob him, and killed him,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Ramin Fatehi. “We have held Mr. Whitaker accountable, honored the victim and the wishes of his family, and protected the community. People who predate our citizens must serve time.”
Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney William S. Maydosz is prosecuting Mr. Whitaker’s case on behalf of the Commonwealth.