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Transgender Woman Chyna Carrillo Beaten to Death in Pennsylvania

Chyna Carrillo

A Latinx transgender woman was beaten to death in Pennsylvania by a man who’d been imprisoned for killing his wife.

Police were called Thursday to a house in New Wilmington Borough, where they found a man beating Chyna Carrillo with a blunt object, local paper New Castle News reports. They ordered the man to cease, but he did not, and an officer shot and killed him at the scene. Carrillo was taken to a hospital in nearby Youngstown, Ohio, where she died of her injuries. She is the seventh trans American known to have died by violence this year.

Police later identified her attacker as Juan Carter Hernandez, 33, who had been imprisoned in North Carolina. He had shot his wife, Kandace Hernandez, to death at their home in that state in July 2011. He claimed he acted in self-defense, but in 2014 he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to eight to 10 years in prison. He had recently been living in Campbell, Ohio.

Investigators with the Pennsylvania State Police are trying to determine his motive in Carrillo’s death. They are conducting an inquiry into his fatal shooting by New Wilmington police as well; the officer who fired the shot has been placed on administrative leave, which is the routine practice in such cases.

Carrillo, who was also known as Chyna Cardena, was a certified nursing assistant at the Grove at New Wilmington, a nursing home that was next to the house where she was attacked. She had moved to Pennsylvania from Springdale, Ark., in what she hoped would be a positive change, friends and family said. She had worked at a hospital and nursing home in Arkansas.

“Whenever I was around Chyna and I knew I was working with her, it just felt like my world would light up,” her friend and former coworker Patrick Irish told Arkansas TV station KNWA. “Her move to Pennsylvania was supposed to be a new start for her. I was really excited to see that for her, and to see that someone decided it was her time, it’s been so painful.”

Lilia Carrillo, Chyna’s mother, said her daughter had some trepidation about coming out as trans. “She was crying because she didn’t know how I was going to react; she was expecting the worst,” her mother told KNWA. “I looked at her and said don’t ever forget, no matter what, I’m going to love you forever — forever.”

Chyna Carrillo would have turned 25 March 3. “I’m going to be celebrating a birthday with an angel in heaven,” her mother said.

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