Murder of Tara Correa-McMullen by Damien Watts investigated on Death by Fame

Tara Correa-McMullen starring in 2005 movie, Rebound
Tara Correa-McMullen, starring here in the 2005 movie Rebound, was at the start of a promising acting career when she was murdered by Damien Watts. Pic credit: 20th Century Fox

Death by Fame on ID is examining the murder of an up-and-coming young actress, Tara Correa-McMullen, who was gunned down outside her apartment by gang member Damien Watts in Inglewood, California.

Correa-McMullen, also known as Shalvah McMullen, was a 16-year-old budding actress who appeared in the movie Rebound alongside Martin Lawrence and Brian Cox. She also had a small role in Nickelodeon’s Zoey 101.

However, the young star was perhaps best known for her role as reformed gang member Graciela Reyes in the CBS TV series Judging Amy, where she had played a recurring role since she was 14.

Unfortunately, life mirrored art when, on October 21, 2005, gang member Damien Watts murdered the actress with an AK-47 in front of her apartment.

The police believe Correa-McMullen was standing outside her apartment complex with two men, Jonithan Turnage and Jacare Smith, when a silver pickup truck stopped in the middle of the street in front of them.

Watts got out of the truck and began firing an AK-47 at the trio. The killer was joined by an accomplice, Joseph Wayne Jones, who started firing a handgun.

The cops suspect Turnage was the primary target. Turnage, Smith, and Correa-McMullen attempted to run for the safety of an apartment, but they were all hit by gunfire. Turnage and Smith survived their injuries.

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Damien Watts and Joseph Jones arrested on suspicion of killing Tara Correa-McMullen

Watts and Jones were both arrested the following day during a traffic stop. The killers were linked to Correa-McMullen’s murder through witness testimony. A few people came forward who identified Watts as the shooter and recognized the silver truck.

The shooter had left a blue shirt behind at the crime scene, and the cops used a sniffer dog to identify the shirt as belonging to Watts.

The cops also linked Watts to the murder of Thomas Sanders, a gang member who had been shot the day before Correa-McMullen as he loaded laundry into a car outside a relative’s home in LA. Watts had used the same AK-47 in both shootings.

Damien Watts convicted for Tara Correa-McMullen murder

In January 2009, Watts was found guilty on two counts of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder Friday. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Watts’s accomplice Jones was later also given a life sentence without the chance of parole.

Death by Fame airs Monday at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.

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