N.J. Town Acts as Backdrop for Gay Attacks

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com October 23 2010 1:15 PM ET

Three men are facing bias crime charges in connection with two separate
murders, those of a transgender woman and a gay man, in New Jersey this
year. Authorities are investigating the deaths of 27-year-old Arthur Downey and 28-year-old Victoria Carmon White, both in Maplewood.

John Staten, 30, was arrested Tuesday in the beating death of Downey, according to the Star-Ledger newspaper. Staten and Downey spoke on a chat service less than 24 hours before meeting in person March 15. Acting Essex County prosecutor Robert Laurino said Friday that Downey died of asphxia and blunt force trauma.

So far, Staten has been charged with murder, felony murder, burglary, and weapons offenses, but Laurino said his office will determine whether to also charge him for a bias crime.

White was shot nine times, with the attack taking place after an altercation in her apartment, Laurino said. Marquise L. Foster, 25, and Alrashim N. Chambers, 23, and two other people reportedly met White at a nightclub hours before she was murdered. The two other unidentified people are not implicated in the shooting, but arrest warrants for Foster and Chambers were issued earlier this week. Garden State Equality has offered a $2,000 reward for information leading to their arrests.