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Trans Activist Convicted in Murders of Lesbian Couple and Their Son

Dana Rivers and Reed Wright family

Dana Rivers maintains her innocence, however.

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From left: Dana Rivers, Patricia Wright, Benny Toto Diambu-Wright, and Charlotte Reed

A transgender activist has been convicted of the 2016 murders of a lesbian couple and their son in Oakland, Calif.

An Alameda County jury convicted Dana Rivers of San Jose November 17, The [San Jose] Mercury News reports. Beginning December 5, the jury will consider whether Rivers was legally insane at the time of the killings. If it finds she was legally insane, she will be "sent to a mental hospital until she's cured and/or for as long as she'd serve in prison for a triple murder conviction," the paper notes.

Rivers had an "on-again, off-again" friendship with one of the victims, Charlotte Reed, according to The MercuryNews. Their friendship soured after Reed left an all-women motorcycle club, the Deviants, in which Rivers was also a member.

"Authorities say Rivers became wrapped up in her identity as an enforcer for an outlaw motorcycle club and sought revenge against Reed after she left the Deviants," the paper reports. But Rivers and Reed made up to the point that Reed allowed Rivers to spend the night on October 11, 2016, at the home Reed and her wife, Patricia Wright, shared in Oakland. Reed was 56 and Wright 57 at the time of their deaths.

Prosecutors said Rivers shot Reed and Wright as they slept that night, then slashed their bodies with a knife. She then shot Wright's 19-year-old son, Benny Toto Diambu-Wright, when he arrived to investigate what was happening, according to the prosecution.

Rivers was covered in blood and in possession of three weapons when police arrived and quickly arrested her, the Mercury News reports. But her defense argued that Rivers, then 61, was incapable of killing three people on her own and said there must have been someone else at the house at the time.

Rivers had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, but her lawyers said that in any case, she did not kill the three victims. The trial was delayed so long "in part because doctors were debating her mental health status and preparing reports for the court," the paper reports.

Years earlier, Rivers was a teacher at a high school in Antelope, Calif., where she made headlines by coming out as trans to her students. The school district fired her, and she sued and ultimately received a settlement of $150,000. She eventually moved from Antelope, which is near Sacramento, to the Bay Area and became an activist for trans rights.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.