Waco (FOX 44) — A man accused of killing his girlfriend two years ago pleaded guilty Monday to a murder charge. As part of his plea, Michael Howard, Jr. received a sentence of 55 years in prison, according to McLennan County District Attorney Barry Johnson.

Initially, Howard faced a murder charge for the death of 21-year-old Sakyra Young, but that was upgraded to Capital Murder three months later.

Balloon release for Sakyra Young

On August 14th, 2020, Waco Police responded to a shooting in the 2900 block of McFerrin Ave shortly before 6:20 PM. When the first officers arrived on-scene, they located Young in the street suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. 

The first officer to her performed life saving measures on Young. She was soon transported to a local hospital by AMR, who assisted on scene, but ended up succumbing to her injuries.

Hundreds of loved ones gathered at Cameron Park for a balloon release to remember Young a week later. Purple balloons flew high from Cameron Park in her honor.

Young’s father, though he didn’t have many words, did share what he hopes Waco’s younger community can learn from his daughter’s murder.

“Be sure that you all open your eyes to this situation and definitely don’t take it lightly, and just pay attention,” he said, advising younger people.