An Onondaga County, New York grand jury
has ruled the murder of a transgender woman was motivated by hate,
possibly adding 5 years to the murderer's prison sentence, News 10
Twenty-two-year-old Latiesha Green was
killed on November 14, a Friday, sitting in a car parked outside a
friend's Syracuse house. She, her openly gay brother Mark Cannon,
and a third person were in the car while people in the home yelled
gay slurs at them, police say.
“Dwight DeLee goes into the residence
at 411 Seymour Street, returns with a 22 caliber rifle, puts the
rifle to the driver's side window of that vehicle and fires one
round,” said Syracuse Police Chief Gary Miguel. “And that one
round strikes Mark Cannon in the arm, and continues on and strikes
Moses Cannon [Latiesha Green] in the chest area.”
Mark Cannon, 18, managed to drive the
car to the family's home.
Prosecutors argued that DeLee
intentionally killed Green based on her sexual orientation. DeLee
was found guilty of second-degree murder as a hate crime,
second-degree murder (without the added hate crime), and criminal
possession of a weapon. He has not been sentenced.
County District Attorney William
Fitzpatrick announced the conviction on Friday, adding that it was
the county's first prosecution of a homicide using the 9-year-old
hate crime law based on the victim's sexual orientation.
Second-degree murder in New York
carries a minimum penalty of 15 years to life in prison. A hate
crime conviction adds 5 years to the minimum, Fitzpatrick said. The
maximum sentence in either case is 25 years to life.
DeLee was nabbed two days after the
shooting, on a Sunday. At the time, Miguel told reporters: “Our
suspect took a rifle and shot and killed this person, wounding also
his brother, for the sole purpose that he didn't care for the sexual
preference of our victim,” then added, “And isn't that sad?”
Gay and lesbian community leaders
called the conviction as a hate crime a victory.
“I think it is a victory because I
don't think there has been a hate crime prosecution [on the grounds
of sexual orientation] ever in this county,” Andrea L. Jaehnig,
director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource
Center at Syracuse University, told Syracuse.com. “It recognizes
this person was targeted because of their being different.”