From The New York Times:
By Liam Stack | May 16, 2017
A Mississippi man was sentenced to 49 years in prison on Monday for killing his transgender former girlfriend, a case the Justice Department said was the first involving violence against a transgender person to be prosecuted under the federal Hate Crimes Act.
The man, Joshua Vallum, 29, killed Mercedes Williamson in May 2015, after the end of their relationship, because a friend learned that she was transgender, a fact Mr. Vallum kept hidden from friends and family while they dated. Local news reports said that Ms. Williamson was 17 at the time of her death.
Mr. Vallum is a member of the Latin Kings gang and decided to kill Ms. Williamson because he “believed he would be in danger” if other gang members learned that he had once dated a woman he knew to be transgender, the Justice Department said in a statement. He pleaded guilty to a state-level murder charge and was sentenced to life in prison last July.
In December, Mr. Vallum pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a federal hate crime statute signed into law in 2009.
And, further down:
But Rob Hill, the Mississippi state director for the Human Rights Campaign, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy group, said the case showed how much more work needed to be done at the state level.
Mississippi is one of 20 states that do not have a hate crime law covering crimes committed on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
“There is an epidemic of violence against transgender people, and particularly women of color, across the country,” Mr. Hill said. “And yet today is the first time a perpetrator will be sentenced under federal hate crimes charges for killing a transgender person because that crime crossed a state line.”
Uhhh, Mr Vallum was already in prison, already sentenced to life in prison. Why did the Justice Department waste the money to convict him of another crime when he was already going to spend the rest of his miserable life in prison?¹ As of May 12, 2017, the National Debt stood at $19,846,183,719,855.51;² why did the federal government waste whatever money it cost to prosecute Mr Vallum for another crime when he will never get out of prison in the first place?
The judge in the case, Louis Guirola, Jr, said, “The taking of a human life because a person has a particular gender identity is particularly heinous and cannot be tolerated in an enlightened society.” Really? Is Mr Williamson³ somehow more dead than another person killed because the murderer wanted to steal his wallet? Was Mr Williamson’s life somehow more valuable than that of someone who isn’t ‘transgender’?
Prosecuting this case was ridiculous; it was nothing other than a waste of taxpayer dollars.
¹ – Oddly enough, neither the Times nor most of the other sources reporting on this story mentioned that Mr Vallum was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. It’s almost as though the media wanted readers to think that Mr Vallum might eventually get out of prison, thus necessitating the federal sentence add-on. At best, it is sloppy reporting.
² – Which, after 112 days of the Trump Administration, is still lower than the $19,947,304,555,212.49 it was the day Mr Trump was inaugurated.
³ – The First Street Journal always refers to individuals by their correct sex. “Mercedes” Williamson was a male, regardless of what he chose to believe, and regardless of how the credentialed media refer to him. Interestingly enough, according to the Times story, Jenny Wilkins, Mr Williamson’s mother, referred to her son “using male pronouns.”
Cross-posted, in slightly different form, on The First Street Journal.