On Wednesday, a crowd gathered outside the New York Court of Appeals in support of Lateisha Green, a 22-year-old trans woman murdered in Syracuse, N.Y. in 2008. The court is ruling this week on whether it will reinstate a hate crime conviction against her alleged killer, Dwight DeLee, reports GLAAD.
DeLee, then 20, allegedly shot Green after uttering antigay slurs, and was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter as a hate crime in 2009. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison in what was New York's first hate crime conviction in the killing of a transgender person, noted Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund executive director Michael Silverman.
However, the conviction was set aside by the New York State Fourth Appellate Division in July 2013 after the court declared the original verdict "inconsistent": The jury had failed to find DeLee guilty of manslaughter first, and then guilty of a hate crime, and the presiding judge failed to make them aware of this.
After the verdict was thrown out, DeLee was set free. Shortly thereafter, the TLDEF, Lambda Legal, Empire State Pride Agenda, the NYU School of Law and several other organizations filed an amicus brief urging the New York Court of Appeals to reinstate DeLee's conviction, according to GLAAD.
"I was devastated. I couldn't believe it," Lateisha's mother, Roxane Green, recalled of the decision in a statement. "I had lived through the agony of seeing my child die, having to choose the clothes to bury her in, waking up everyday to the horrible reality that she was gone. ... Now I have to go back through that experience all over again.
"It's so unfair to me, my family and community, and to every transgender woman who lives in fear of hateful violence happening to her, but especially to Lateisha. She was a beautiful, loving spirit who was expressing herself as who she was. And for that, she was targeted by a man who has been released."
Advocates pointed out that it seemed clear the jury sought to convict DeLee to the full extent of the law by virtue of declaring the murder a hate crime, making his release on a wording technicality all the more serious.
Watch the CNY Central report below for more.