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Gang member accepts plea in anti-gay attack

National LGBT Bar Association, Gay News, Washington Blade

A New York City judge on sentenced a gang member to seven years in prison in connection with an anti-gay attack. (Photo via Wikimedia)

BRONX, N.Y.—A New York City judge on Aug. 9 sentenced a gang member to seven years in prison in connection with a 2010 anti-gay attack.

The New York Daily News reported Bronx Supreme Court Justice Steven Barrett sentenced Nelson Falu after he accepted a plea bargain for his role in the beating and torture of two teenage boys and a 30-year-old man.

Prosecutors contend Falu and seven other members of the “Latin King Goonies” sodomized two of their victims with a plunger while they used homophobic slurs against them inside a home in the borough’s Morris Heights neighborhood in October 2010. The gang members also allegedly used a cigarette lighter to burn their victims.

The Daily News reported two of Falu’s other alleged co-conspirators have also accepted plea bargains.

14
Aug
2013

Annual hate crimes report released

anti-violence, hate crime, Greenwich Village, Mark Carson, gay news, Washington Blade

Thousands of people marched in New York City in response to the rash of hate crimes and Mark Carson’s murder. (Photo courtesy of Karlo)

NEW YORK—The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects on Tuesday released its annual report on anti-LGBT hate crimes and bias crimes.

The report noted 2,016 reported incidents of violence motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation and gender identity in 2012, which is comparable to numbers found in previous years. NCAVP said 25 LGBT people were murdered over the last year, which is the fourth highest yearly total it has recorded since it began to issue annual reports in 1996.

The organization reported transgender women, people of color and gay men remain more likely to suffer what it described as “severe violence.”

NCAVP issued its report slightly more than two weeks after Elliot Morales allegedly shot gay Brooklyn, N.Y., resident Mark Carson to death on a Manhattan street. New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn was among the thousands who marched through Greenwich Village on May 22 to condemn Carson’s murder and a spate of other anti-LGBT attacks that had taken place in the city in the previous weeks.

“Though the recent spate of hate violence incidents in New York City has captured the media’s attention, this report demonstrates that severe acts of violence against gay men, transgender people and LGBTQ people of color are, unfortunately, not unique to Manhattan,” Chai Jindasurat, NCAVP coordinator at the New York City Anti-Violence Project, said.

06
Jun
2013

Trial of gay man’s attacker to begin

Kenni Shaw, gay news, Washington Blade, Baltimore, hate crime

Kenni Shaw (Photo courtesy of Shaw via Instagram)

The trial of one of the defendants in the high-profile attack on Kenni Shaw — a gay man —Marcus Troy Evans, is set to begin on June 25 at 9:30 a.m. Shaw, 30, a cosmetologist, was leaving a corner store at E. Hoffman and N. Rose Streets in East Baltimore and punched from behind around 9 p.m. on Christmas night. Shaw was bloodied and sustained bruises to his face and body from the beating that ultimately lasted 10 minutes and included five men.

Marcus Troy Evans, 27, the only attacker arrested in the incident, has a lengthy record of criminal behavior that includes violence. He has been charged with first- and second-degree assault.

The incident led to a march several days later to the location of the beating by community members. Included was Baltimore City Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts. Some community activists are disappointed and angry that the assault was not treated as a hate crime.  Shaw and others said the attack occurred only because he is gay as nothing was stolen.

19
Jun
2013

Suspect in custody in D.C. trans stabbing

Gay News, Washington Blade, Bree Wallace, transgender

Bree Wallace (Photo courtesy of Ruby Corado.)

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier broke the department’s silence over whether a suspect had been arrested for allegedly stabbing a transgender woman as much as 40 times early Friday morning, saying a suspect was in custody on “other charges” presumably in an unrelated case.

Lanier’s confirmation that the suspect was in custody came in the form of an email to LGBT activists on Sunday night.

It was the latest in a flurry of emails between activists and police officials over the police investigation into the stabbing of trans woman Bree Wallace, 29, in an abandoned house at 3038 Stanton Rd., S.E.

Wallace was being treated at Prince George’s Hospital Center in Cheverly, Md. D.C. police and D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Service rescue workers found her lying in the street about 1 a.m. Friday, June 21, outside the apartment building where she lives.

A police report says Wallace told investigators a man she knew from the neighborhood met her at the abandoned house, where she intended to buy a cigarette from him, when he suddenly began stabbing her for unknown reasons.

She ran from her attacker and managed to reach her apartment building on the 2400 block of 15th Place, S.E., before collapsing, the police report says. Neighbors who saw her immediately called police, according to the report.

Questions over whether an arrest had been made surfaced early Saturday when Wallace told transgender activists Earline Budd and Ruby Corado, who knew Wallace prior to the attack, that police told her father that the suspect had been arrested.

Wallace told the Blade in a phone interview on Sunday from her hospital bed of her father’s report that police said the suspect implicated in her stabbing had been arrested.

Budd and Corado told the Blade that police declined to confirm that the attacker had been charged in the stabbing when they reached out to police officials by email and phone calls over the weekend.

Police spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump told the Blade in an email on Saturday that the incident was under investigation, but she didn’t respond to the Blade’s question asking whether an arrest had been made.

Assistant Police Chief Peter Newsham hinted at a reason the police were withholding information about an arrest in his own email to LGBT activists shortly before Lanier sent out her email on Sunday night.

“It is my understanding that the suspect is in jail on another charge,” Newsham told Budd in his email. “We don’t need the public’s assistance in this case. We believe we will be able to charge the suspect before release,” he said. “We will provide the suspect’s name once an arrest is made [in the stabbing case].”

Although he didn’t say so directly, Newsham appeared to be suggesting that the suspect was arrested on an unrelated charge sometime between the time he allegedly stabbed Wallace about 1 a.m. on Friday and the time police told Wallace’s father on Saturday morning that the suspect was in custody.

It could not immediately be determined why Newsham, Lanier and other police officials were reluctant to disclose the suspect’s name and the nature of the offense, unrelated to the alleged stabbing, that resulted in his arrest.

Corado said she visited Wallace in the hospital on Saturday. She said she is heartbroken over the pain and anguish that Wallace and other transgender women have suffered over what appears to be an endless series of violent attacks during the past several years in D.C.

“She is a good girl,” said Corado. “She always talks about thanking God she is not on drugs. She looked at me. She held my hand. I’m so tired of this happening so many times.”

24
Jun
2013

Bystanders cheer as women attack, beat D.C. drag performer

Miles DeNiro, Manny & Olga's, hate crime, gay news, Washington Blade

Miles DeNiro (Screen capture)

A male drag performer was punched, kicked, and dragged by his hair on the floor at the Manny & Olga’s pizzeria on 14th Street, N.W., about 2 a.m. Sunday by two female attackers in an incident that was captured on video taken by a bystander who cheered the attackers.

An official with the D.C. police department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit said police were investigating the incident and were reviewing the video, which had been posted on at least two websites, to determine the identity of the attackers. The incident was expected to be classified as a hate crime.

Miles DeNiro, 24, who had just performed under his drag name Heidi Glum at the nearby Black Cat nightclub, said he suffered cuts and bruises to his head and upper body and had clumps of hair pulled from his head in an encounter he described as horrifying and traumatic.

“I had ordered some food and was waiting and one girl approached me and she started touching my face, telling me I needed to blend my makeup,” DeNiro told the Washington Blade.

DeNiro, who said he identifies as a gay man, said he was dressed in drag after just having completed a performance at the Black Cat.

He said he asked the woman not to touch him and to “please back off” when another woman approached him and began calling him a “tranny” and “shouted insults at me saying I was a man and a faggot.” He said he shouted back as the name-calling escalated and one of the women slapped him in the face twice.

“Then I flipped out,” DeNiro said. “I spit in her face and her friend jumped in and they started dragging me around by my hair while punching me in the face repeatedly and kicking me,” he said. “They had me held down on the ground and they were pulling my hair out.”

The video shows the two women dragging and punching him before knocking him to the floor as bystanders shouted and cheered. An unidentified man who took the video can be heard repeatedly shouting and screaming the words “World Star,” which refers to a hip hop music website, on which the video was later posted.

The video shows DeNiro wiping blood from his forehead which he said came from at least two cuts on his head sustained when he was knocked to the floor.

Someone also posted the video on YouTube, but the popular video website took down the video a short time later and posted a message saying, “This video has been removed as a violation of YouTube’s policy on shocking and disgusting content.”

The video, which was also posted on the site liveleak.com, shows one of the Manny & Olga’s employees walking past where the women were punching DeNiro while carrying out several boxes of pizzas.

“There were five or six workers behind the counter or in the kitchen area and none of them did anything to stop it,” DeNiro said.

The assault ended, according to DeNiro, when two men walked into the restaurant from the sidewalk and pulled the two women away from him.

“I don’t know who they are but they appeared to have seen what was happening through the window and came in to help,” he said.

DeNiro said two friends who were with him drove him home. He said he chose not to call police at the time of the incident but reported the attack to police Monday afternoon at the Third Police District at 17th and V Street, N.W.

Sgt. Matt Mahl, supervisor of the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit, said police first learned about the incident a few hours earlier when Rick Rosendall, president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, emailed a link to the video of the incident to the GLLU office. Rosendall told the Blade he received the video in an email sent by one of DeNiro’s friends, who also sent a link to the video to the Blade and other news media outlets.

Police spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump told the Blade a second police report was filed by a party other than DeNiro related to an incident at Manny & Olga’s, but she didn’t identify who the other party was.

A man who identified himself only as Jamie and said he was a manager at Manny & Olga’s, located at 1841 14th Street, N.W., said the owners of the carry out restaurant were cooperating with police. He said the owners agreed to a request by police to show investigators footage from Manny & Olga’s in-house video surveillance cameras taken at the time of the incident. He said police were scheduled to view the video at 9 p.m. Tuesday evening.

“It’s my understanding that someone here did call the police and the police came,” Jamie told the Blade.

But DeNiro said police did not come before he left the restaurant to go home sometime after 2 a.m. on June 23. He said police could have arrived for an unrelated incident at the restaurant on a night in which he said “a lot of rowdy people” were on the street outside and inside Manny & Olga’s.”

DeNiro said he regrets that when he arrived home and observed the extent of his injuries, including damage to his scalp where hair had been pulled from its roots, that he posted two messages on his Twitter account using a racial slur to describe one of the two women attackers who is black.

The LGBT news website Queerty, which posted a story about the assault against DeNiro, quoted DeNiro’s Twitter postings, which used the “N” word.

The Queerty story prompted at least 20 readers to post comments debating one another over whether DeNiro’s racial comment should overshadow the significance of the assault, which many readers said was motivated by anti-gay and anti-trans prejudice.

“I was angry. I was irritated,” DeNiro told the Blade. “I said some things that I of course regret. I can’t change the past but I can only move forward and learn from this to become a better person.”

hate crime, Manny & Olga's, gay news, Washington Blade

A video of the altercation involving drag performer Miles DeNiro early Sunday morning at Manny & Olga’s pizzeria on 14th Street, N.W., shows these two women assaulting DeNiro as one of them drags him by his hair across the floor. (Screen capture)

25
Jun
2013

Attacker says drag performer threatened to give her AIDS

Miles DeNiro, Manny & Olga's, hate crime, gay news, Washington Blade

Miles Denaro, 24, says he was attacked by two women who called him a ‘tranny’ and ‘faggot.’ (Screen capture)

One of two women shown in a video posted online punching and kicking a gay male drag performer while pulling him by his hair inside a D.C. carryout restaurant has filed a police report accusing the man of biting her leg and telling her “now you have AIDS.”

The report given by the woman, which D.C. police made public Tuesday afternoon, was the latest development stemming from an incident early Sunday morning, June 23, at Manny & Olga’s pizzeria on 14th Street, N.W., in which Miles Denaro, 24, says he was attacked by two women who called him a “tranny” and “faggot.”

Denaro said he bit the women in self-defense but denies he ever told her she had or would get AIDS.

He said he came to the restaurant to take out food shortly after he performed under his drag name Heidi Glum at the Black Cat nightclub located on the same block as Manny & Olga’s. He was in drag when he entered the restaurant.

The video shows the two women hitting Denaro with their fists while dragging him by his hair across the floor of the restaurant as bystanders, including a man taking the video, laughed and cheered.

According to Denaro, no one, including about six Manny & Olga employees, came to his aid during the assault.

Denaro said he chose not to call police at the time of the assault. He filed a separate police report on Monday, June 24, accusing the two women of assaulting him. He told the Blade the assault began after one of the women made fun of his makeup and words were exchanged between them, prompting one of the women to slap him in the face twice.

“Then I flipped out,” he said. “I spit in her face and her friend jumped in and they started dragging me around by my hair while punching me in the face repeatedly and kicking me,” he said.

He initially identified himself to the media as Miles DeNiro. When asked by the Blade why the police report spelled his last name as Denaro, he said he has used “DeNiro” as a stage name and that his legal birth name is Denaro.

The police report taken from the woman, who is identified as Rachel Manna Sahle, 22, of Gaithersburg, Md., classifies her biting allegation against Denaro as a felony aggravated assault that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail.

The police report taken from Denaro classifies the assault by the two women against him as a misdemeanor simple assault, which has a maximum sentence of six months in jail and/or a fine of $1,000.

Police spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump said police would have no comment on any details of the case because it remains under investigation. No arrests had been made in the case as of Wednesday.

It couldn’t immediately be determined why the police reports classified the woman’s allegation as a more serious offense than Denaro’s complaint – which is backed up by the video – that the two women injured him in a violent attack.

Denaro told the Blade he did, in fact, bite Sahle on her leg but said he did so in self-defense in a desperate attempt to get her to stop pulling out his hair. He denies telling her she had or would get AIDS.

“She was ripping my hair out,” he said. “I have a bag full of my own hair that I picked up off the floor. She ripped my hair out repeatedly. There was nothing I could do to get her off of me because the other girl was on top of me and she was really huge.”

Added Denaro, “At that time, with my face on the ground in her legs, the only thing to help get out of it was to bite her. It didn’t draw any blood. I don’t think I broke the skin. I just bit her hard enough so that she would let go of me. And it worked. She did.”

The police report of Sahle’s allegation against Denaro says Sahle gave a different version of what happened from that of Denaro.

The report says Sahle told police Denaro “became verbally combative” with her at the restaurant. It says Sahle claims that after she and Denaro exchanged words “several people began to fight inside the establishment.” During that altercation, Denaro “bent down and bit Complainant 1 [Sahle] on the right thigh.”

It says that shortly after biting her Denaro stated, “That’s why I bit you, now you have AIDS, bitch.”

Based on the conflicting statements made by Denaro and Sahle, police investigators and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s office will have to decide who to believe and who to charge with a possible crime such as assault.

Denaro told the Blade that he is HIV positive. The video shows him shouting at the other woman who assaulted him that she would get AIDS as he wiped blood dripping over his face. He said the blood came from two head wounds he sustained when the women knocked him down and his head hit the floor.

“I was doing what I thought was the responsible thing to do – to tell the girl I’m positive,” he said.

The police report taken from Denaro says Denaro told police that the two women started the altercation when one of them criticized his makeup and started touching his face. The report taken from Denaro contradicts the report taken from Sahle by saying the altercation was limited to Denaro and the two women.

26
Jun
2013

2 more trans women attacked in violent month in D.C.

Earline Budd, transgender activist, Washington DC

Transgender activist Earline Budd, who organized a Friday meeting to respond to anti-trans violence, said the slaying of a local lesbian stunned those in the LGBT community who knew her. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

One transgender woman was shot and another was sexually assaulted in separate incidents in D.C. early Saturday morning, June 29.

The two attacks came less than 24 hours after about 50 LGBT activists met to discuss ways to respond to a rash of violent incidents against LGBT people in the city since June 21, including the June 22 murder of a lesbian who was shot to death in what police said was a botched robbery.

Police said the shooting death of Malika Stover, 35, in the 1300 block of Stevens Road, S.E. didn’t appear to be linked to her sexual orientation.

But transgender activist Earline Budd, who organized the Friday night, June 28 “community response” meeting to address the recent incidents, said Stover’s slaying stunned those in the LGBT community who knew her.

“This is really putting all of us on edge,” Budd told the Blade. “You’re seeing all of these incidents happening in such a short period of time.”

The non-fatal shooting and the unrelated sexual assault of the two transgender women on Saturday, June 29, were the fifth and sixth violent assaults against a total of four transgender women, one gay man dressed in drag, and a lesbian, Stover, since June 21.

In the June 21 incident, transgender woman Bree Wallace, 29, was stabbed multiple times in an abandoned house at 3038 Stanton Rd., S.E.

D.C. police have since arrested 23-year-old Michael McBride of Southeast D.C. for the attack, charging him with assault with intent to kill. Police told the Washington Post the stabbing was triggered by a dispute between Wallace and McBride, who knew each other.

“It’s been a series of horrible incidents in the past few weeks in terms of what’s going on against the transgender community,” said Hassan Naveed, co-chair of Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV).

“And tonight we really built momentum to combat the hate violence in this city,” he said, in commenting on the June 28 meeting at the LGBT Center. “We can see the energy in the community and people really coming together to discuss these issues and acting on this,” said Naveed.

Among those attending the meeting was D.C. Police Capt. Edward Delgado, director of the police division that oversees the department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit, and two GLLU officers. D.C. Council member Tommy Wells also stopped by the meeting.

“I’m completely open to learning from you,” said Wells, who chairs the Council’s Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety. “We make progress and then sometimes we take two steps back,” he said in referring to efforts to curtail violence against the LGBT community.

One of the more tense moments of the meeting came when Earl Hooks, a public relations representative for Manny & Olga’s pizzeria chain, answered questions about a 2 a.m. incident on June 23 in which a gay man in drag was attacked at the Manny & Olga’s at 1841 14th St., N.W.

The incident, which was captured on a video that went viral online, involved two women who could be seen on the video dragging Miles Denaro, 24, across the floor by his hair as they punched and kicked him in the head and body. Denaro said he went to the pizzeria to take out some food after performing in drag under his stage name Heidi Glum at the nearby Black Cat nightclub.

An unidentified man taking the video is heard laughing and shouting along with other customers in the Manny & Olga’s restaurant as the two women assaulted Denaro and as blood could be seen dripping over his face from a head wound. According to Denaro, as many as five or six employees stood by watching and didn’t take steps to break up the altercation or call police. He said the two women who assaulted him called him “tranny” and “faggot.”

“I’m here right now to apologize for anything that is harmful to this community,” Hooks told the meeting.

Gay activist Nick McCoy, who helped organize the meeting, said he contacted Manny & Olga’s and invited the owners to send someone to the meeting to talk about the incident.

Several activists, including D.C. Center Executive Director David Mariner, pressed Hooks to explain why the employees apparently failed to take steps to stop the attack.

“Our policy is to not touch anyone who comes into the store,” he said. “From what I understand, a call was made to the police.”

Police sources, however, have said no call was received from Manny & Olga’s at the time of the incident.

Delgado told the Blade at the meeting that police have obtained warrants for the arrest of the two women on a charge of simple assault. He said the women had not been apprehended as of the time of the meeting.

Denaro told the Blade he wasn’t seriously injured.

In addition to Budd, speakers at the meeting included Naveed of GLOV; Rick Rosendall, president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance; Nico Quintana of the D.C. Trans Coalition; Ruby Corado of Casa Ruby; Sterling Washington, director of the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs; and Cyndee Clay, executive director of Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive (HIPS).

Officer Juanita Foreman of the GLLU gave a presentation on steps citizens can take, including members of the LGBT community, to avoid danger while walking on the streets.

Mariner said the D.C. Center would make available to the community a compilation of proposals developed at the meeting to address anti-LGBT violence in the city.

The following summary of the six incidents involving attacks against members of the LGBT community between June 21 and June 29 is based on information released by D.C. police. As of early this week police had not classified any of the incidents as a hate crime, although a source familiar with police thought the incident at Manny & Olga’s would be listed as a hate crime:

1. Transgender woman Bree Wallace, 29, was attacked and stabbed multiple times in an abandoned house at 3038 Stanton Rd., S.E. about 1 a.m. Thursday, June 21. A suspect was arrested and charged with assault with intent to kill.

2. Malika Stover, 35, identified by Earline Budd as an out lesbian known in the LGBT community, was fatally shot about 2 a.m. Saturday, June 22, in the 1300 block of Stevens Road, S.E. Police say she suffered from multiple gunshot wounds and the motive appeared to be robbery.

3. Gay male drag performer Miles Denaro, 24, was attacked and beaten by two female suspects about 2 a.m. Sunday, June 23, inside Manny & Olga’s pizzeria at 1841 14th St., N.W.

4. A transgender woman was shot in the buttocks in the 500 block of Eastern Avenue, N.E., about 6 a.m. Thursday, June 27. Police say the motive appears to be robbery.

5. A transgender woman was sexually assaulted by an unidentified male after accepting a ride in the suspect’s car while walking in the 300 block of 61st Street, N.E. about 3:30 a.m. Saturday, June 29. Police listed the incident as a first-degree sexual assault.

6. A transgender woman was shot and sustained non-life-threatening injuries while walking in the area of 5th and K Street, N.E., about 4 a.m. Saturday, June 29. Police said the shooting took place while two male suspects attempted to rob her.

01
Jul
2013

Family to memorialize slain trans woman

The stepfather and sister of a transgender woman stabbed to death at a Northeast D.C. bus stop last February are inviting members of the LGBT community to participate in a memorial remembrance for Deoni Jones on Saturday, Feb. 2, to commemorate the anniversary of her death.

Deoni Jones, gay news, gay politics dc

Over 200 people attended a candlelight vigil held for Jones. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Jones’ family members, who refer to her by her birth name JaParker, told more than 200 people who turned out for a vigil at the site of the murder days after the incident took place that they fully accepted her as a transgender woman and treated her as a cherished member of the family.

“We want to have this event to not only honor JaParker, but to also shine light on the fact that so often members of our society who are GLBT face violence in their daily lives simply because of who they are, and that as a civilized society we will not tolerate violence against the GLBT community,” said Alvin Bethea, Jones’ stepfather.

“At this memorial we will have prayer, songs, and statements from the community,” Bethea said in an email to the Blade.

He said Jones’ sister, JuDean Jones, and other family members and friends were helping to organize the memorial remembrance.

The event is scheduled to take place 4:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 2, at East Capitol Street and Sycamore Street, N.E., at the site of the Metro bus stop where police say Jones was stabbed while sitting on a bench waiting for a bus.

Through the help of witnesses and nearby residents, D.C. police charged 55-year-old Gary Niles Montgomery with second-degree murder while armed in connection with Jones’ death eight days after the murder took place. In November, a D.C. Superior Court grand jury indicted Montgomery on a charge of first-degree murder while armed.

He has been held in jail without bond since the time of his arrest in February 2012.

A police arrest affidavit says a video surveillance camera which recorded the murder shows a male assailant taking Jones’ purse immediately after stabbing her in the face. The affidavit says witnesses identified the person in the video as Montgomery.

Although the taking of the purse indicates the motive of the attack was robbery, police said they have not ruled out the possibility that Jones was targeted because of her status as a transgender person.

However, Bethea told the Blade that he and his family believe Jones’ murder was a hate crime and that police and prosecutors should have classified it as a hate crime, which would give a judge authority to hand down a more stringent or “enhanced” sentence if Montgomery is convicted.

“We believe that it is clear in the video footage of this murder that the elements of a hate crime are present and that hate crime enhancement papers should be served upon this individual,” Bethea said in a email.

He said the family has urged the U.S. Attorney’s office, which is prosecuting the case, to list the murder as a hate crime.

“[W]e are considering filing a complaint with the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division seeking redress of [this] error,” Bethea said in his email.

According to court records, on March 23, Montgomery was declared competent to stand trial following a court ordered mental evaluation. He pleaded not guilty on Nov. 9, two days after the grand jury indicted him on the first-degree murder while armed charge. During a court hearing on Nov. 30, Superior Court Judge Robert E. Morin scheduled a trial date for June 10.

Court records show that questions surrounding Montgomery’s metal health surfaced in January, prompting Morin to order “24 hour forensic screening” for Montgomery “based on the representations of defense counsel.”

Morin scheduled a mental observation hearing for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 29, to assess Montgomery’s condition.

Court records show Morin denied at least two requests by Montgomery’s attorneys that he be released from jail while awaiting trial. Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s office opposed the requests for Montgomery’s release.

D.C. Homicide Watch, a blog that reports on all murder cases in the city, reported that defense attorney Colle Latin argued in a motion that prosecutors failed to demonstrate that Montgomery would be a risk to the community or of fleeing the area if released. Latin also argued that the video, which is fuzzy in quality, doesn’t clearly identify Montgomery as the person who stabbed Jones.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

28
Jan
2013

Memorial planned for slain trans woman

Deoni Jones, gay news, gay politics dc

Over 200 people attended a candlelight vigil held for murdered trans woman Deoni Jones. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The stepfather and sister of a transgender woman stabbed to death at a Northeast D.C. bus stop last February are inviting members of the LGBT community to participate in a memorial remembrance for Deoni Jones on Saturday, Feb. 2, to commemorate the anniversary of her death.

The memorial was scheduled to take place four days after a D.C. Superior Court judge ordered a 56-year-old man arrested for the murder last Feb. 10 transferred from jail, where he was awaiting trial, to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital for mental observation.

Jones’ family members, who refer to her by her birth name JaParker, told more than 200 people who turned out for a vigil at the site of the murder days after the incident took place that they fully accepted her as a transgender woman and treated her as a cherished member of the family.

“We want to have this event to not only honor JaParker, but to also shine light on the fact that so often members of our society who are GLBT face violence in their daily lives simply because of who they are, and that as a civilized society we will not tolerate violence against the GLBT community,” said Alvin Bethea, Jones’ stepfather.

“At this memorial we will have prayer, songs, and statements from the community,” Bethea said in an email to the Blade.

He said Jones’ sister, JuDean Jones, and other family members and friends were helping to organize the memorial.

The event is scheduled to take place at 4:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 2, at East Capitol Street and Sycamore Street, N.E., at the site of the Metro bus stop where police say Jones was stabbed while sitting on a bench waiting for a bus.

Through the help of witnesses and nearby residents, D.C. police charged then 55-year-old Gary Niles Montgomery with second-degree murder while armed in connection with Jones’ death eight days after the murder took place. In November, a D.C. Superior Court grand jury indicted Montgomery on a charge of first-degree murder while armed.

Until the time of his transfer this week to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, he had been held in jail without bond since the time of his arrest in February 2012.

A police arrest affidavit says a video surveillance camera that recorded the murder shows a male assailant taking Jones’ purse immediately after stabbing her in the face. The affidavit says witnesses identified the person in the video as Montgomery.

Although the taking of the purse indicates the motive of the attack was robbery, police said they have not ruled out the possibility that Jones was targeted because of her status as a transgender person.

However, Bethea told the Blade that he and his family believe Jones’ murder was a hate crime and that police and prosecutors should have classified it as a hate crime, which would give a judge authority to hand down a more stringent or “enhanced” sentence if Montgomery is convicted.

“We believe that it is clear in the video footage of this murder that the elements of a hate crime are present and that hate crime enhancement papers should be served upon this individual,” Bethea said in an email.

He said the family has urged the U.S. Attorney’s office, which is prosecuting the case, to list the murder as a hate crime.

“[W]e are considering filing a complaint with the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division seeking redress of [this] error,” Bethea said in his email.

According to court records, on March 23, Montgomery was declared competent to stand trial following a court-ordered mental evaluation. He pleaded not guilty on Nov. 9, two days after the grand jury indicted him on the first-degree murder while armed charge. During a court hearing on Nov. 30, Superior Court Judge Robert E. Morin scheduled a trial date for June 10.

Court records show that questions surrounding Montgomery’s mental health surfaced in January, prompting Morin to order “24 hour forensic screening” for Montgomery “based on the representations of defense counsel.”

During a court hearing on Tuesday, Morin ordered that Montgomery be transferred to St. Elizabeth’s to undergo a “full competency examination” at the recommendation of a psychiatrist, court records show. The records show Morin vacated the June 10 trial date and scheduled a follow-up mental observation hearing for April 5 to assess Montgomery’s ability to stand trial.

Court records show that at a previous hearing Morin denied at least two requests by Montgomery’s attorneys that he be released from jail while awaiting trial. Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s office opposed the requests for Montgomery’s release.

William Miller, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office, said the office doesn’t comment on pending criminal cases.

This is an update of a story published earlier this week, here.

30
Jan
2013

Mayor, city officials attend memorial for slain trans woman

Vince Gray, Democratic Party, Washington D.C., District of Columbia, Anacostia, JaParker Deoni Jones, gay news, Washington Blade, transgender

Mayor Vince Gray attended the memorial for slain trans woman Deoni Jones, along with several other D.C. officials. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe, and Deputy Police Chief Diane Groomes were among a contingent of city officials who joined about 100 participants Saturday night in a memorial remembrance for slain trans woman Deoni Jones.

Jones, 23, was stabbed to death Feb. 2, 2012 while sitting at a bus stop near her home at East Capitol Street and Sycamore Road, N.E. A 56-year-old District man was indicted on a charge of first-degree murder while armed in connection with Jones’ murder.

As participants in Saturday’s memorial assembled next to the bus stop where the murder occurred exactly one year earlier, Earl Fowlkes, president of the gay rights group Center for Black Equity, introduced Jones’ family members, who organized the event.

“First of all, they could have stayed private, which would be understandable to heal, to seek justice, and to grieve,” Fowlkes said. “But instead, they joined with the LGBT community and stayed with the LGBT community in their time of pain to show that we cannot tolerate violence in our community.”

Alvin Bethea, Jones’ stepfather, told the gathering he and his family were deeply moved by the support they have received from the LGBT community as well as from Mayor Gray and the police and fire departments, which he said responded quickly to the scene where Deoni Jones was attacked.

“President Obama put the country on notice that discrimination against the GLBT community is wrong,” he said, adding that many in the D.C. community were following Obama’s message of equality for all citizens.

But Bethea said he and his family were troubled that the U.S. Attorney’s office has declined their repeated calls for classifying Jones’ murder as a hate crime. He called on the city and the LGBT community to join his family’s efforts to persuade the prosecutor in charge of the case, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Gorman, to add a hate crime designation to the charge against defendant Gary Montgomery, whom D.C. police arrested eight days after the murder.

Bethea said the family plans to file a complaint with the U.S. Justice Department’s criminal and civil rights divisions requesting an investigation into the handling of the case by the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s office.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office said the office has a policy of not commenting on criminal cases currently before the courts.

In charging documents, police and prosecutors said that a video recording of the incident obtained from a nearby video surveillance camera shows that the person who stabbed Jones took her purse immediately after the stabbing and walked from the scene with the purse in his possession.

The charging documents say the assailant shown on the video recording, which witnesses have identified as Montgomery, dropped the purse after a witness shouted and chased after him. A police arrest affidavit says that the suspect escaped from the scene and remained at large until D.C. police apprehended him eight days later.

Deoni Jones, gay news, Washington Blade

Remembrance of Deoni Jones. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Jones’ friends and family members have said they believe the true motive was hatred toward a transgender person rather than robbery. At the time of Montgomery’s arrest, a police investigator said police were considering the possibility that the incident was a hate crime.

When asked about the family’s and community’s concerns over the lack of a hate crime designation to the case, Gray told reporters after the memorial ended that he would ask the D.C. Attorney General’s office to look into the matter.

“I think there ought to be a clear indication of why or why not this is viewed or not viewed as a hate crime,” Gray said. “The family clearly is not satisfied. And I think we all owe it to them to give a clear explanation over why the direction of the case is proceeding the way it is.”

Gray added, “We can get our attorney general to make a statement to the U.S. Attorney’s office to say we want a clear determination on this situation. And let the family have peace on this because they clearly are still very restive about this whole situation.”

Others who spoke at the memorial included D.C. Council members David Catania (I-At-Large) and Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7); Groomes and Ellerbe; Sterling Washington, director of the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs; Hassan Naveed, co-chair of Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence; and Brian Watson of Transgender Health Empowerment.

In the closing prayer, Rev. Dyan Abena McGray, pastor of the LGBT supportive congregation Unity Fellowship, urged members of the LGBT community to be vigilant and supportive in the wake of Deoni Jones’ death.
“I ask you to support one another,” she said. “Stay close to one another. Travel in twos. Protect each other, because there are people outside our group that don’t like us. They don’t understand us,” she said. “But we understand each other so we have to support each other.”
As participants held lit candles and snow began to fall, McGray added, “Just look around. Look at the family here. We are family.”
04
Feb
2013