NY Man Guilty of Hate Crime in Transgender Slaying
Dwight DeLee was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter for the fatal shooting of 22-year-old Lateisha Green outside a Syracuse house party in November because of anti-gay bias. He becomes just the second person in the U.S. convicted of a hate crime that involved the death of a transgender victim.
The Onondaga County Court jury delivered its verdict after deliberating for about six hours over two days.
DeLee faces additional prison time because he was convicted of a hate crime.
DeLee was charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime. But Judge William Walsh told the jury that it could also consider convicting DeLee of manslaughter as a hate crime, as well as murder or manslaughter without the hate crime element.
Green, who was born Moses Cannon but began living as a woman at age 16, frequently dressed in women's clothing but was wearing jeans and a T-shirt the night she was killed.
During three days of testimony, DeLee's attorney, Clarence Johnson, denied prosecution claims that his client hated homosexuals. Johnson contended prosecutors presented no evidence showing DeLee had a history of anti-gay bias before the shooting.
But several witnesses said they heard DeLee refer to Green as a "faggot" just before Green was shot with a .22-caliber rifle while sitting in a parked car outside the party. But Johnson noted that other witnesses attributed the slur to others at the party.
The U.S. Senate Thursday approved legislation to extend current federal hate crimes protections to gays and other groups. The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, named after the gay Wyoming college student murdered in 1998, was proposed as an amendment to a $680 billion bill to approve defense programs.
The bill would expand federal hate crimes - currently defined as those motivated by race, color, national origin or religion - to include gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. The House passed a similar hate crimes bill in April.