The jury deliberating on the killing of
Lateisha Green, a transgender woman, returned a guilty verdict of
manslaughter as a hate crime Friday, The Post-Standard
Jurors found Dwight DeLee guilty of
first-degree manslaughter as a hate crime in the murder of Green
outside a house party in Syracuse, New York last November.
But the six men and six women jury
rejected the more serious charge of second-degree murder.
The jury took six hours over two days
to decided that DeLee, 20, only intended to seriously injure and not
kill Green. The additional hate crime count will add 5 years to the
minimum sentence of 10 years to life in prison when judge William
Walsh hands down his sentence on August 18. It is only the second
hate crime conviction in the nation involving a transgender person.
May, Allen Andrade was convicted of beating 18-year-old Angie Zapata
to death with a fire extinguisher in Colorado.
Twenty-two-year-old Lateisha Green was
killed on November 14, a Friday, sitting in a car parked outside a
friend's 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 [Lateisha Green] in the chest area.”
Mark Cannon, 18 at the time, managed to
drive the car to the family's home for help.
Cannon was also the first to testify
after lawyers delivered their opening arguments Monday afternoon,
telling jurors about the night Green was shot. Two witnesses who
told detectives they saw DeLee kill Green recanted their statements
under testimony Tuesday. Other witnesses testified they heard men at
the party using gay slurs to describe Green but not necessarily
DeLee. Cannon fingered DeLee as the gunman in his testimony.
Prosecutors argued that DeLee attacked
Green because he thought she was gay.
Green began living as a woman at the
age of 16, and received a slash to the face from a high school peer
for that decision, Green's aunt, Rhonda Gary, said at a press event
before the trial's opening.
Gay rights groups appeared satisfied
with the manslaughter verdict. Incoming Gay & Lesbian Alliance
Against Defamation (GLAAD) President Jarrett Barrios said in a
statement: “Today's verdict brings justice for Lateisha Green, but
it can never heal the immense loss her family has experienced.”
Michael Silverman, executive director
of the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF), called
on lawmakers to pass a transgender hate crimes bill held up in the
Senate: “Despite this legal victory, transgender New Yorkers still
face a serious risk of violence and discrimination. New York State
law does not include gender identity or expression in its hate crime
law and that sends a dangerous message that it is acceptable to leave
part of our community vulnerable to hateful acts of violence simply
because of who they are.”
“This verdict sends a strong message
that hate violence will not be condoned,” Rea Carey, executive
director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said in a
statement. “How many more like Lateisha Green must spill blood
before our society says no to harassment, no to discrimination and no
to violence against transgender people?”
“While no verdict will bring Lateisha
Green back, justice was served today,” Rea added.