U.S. Marine charged with murder of transwoman in Philippines

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Prosecutors in the Phillipine Islands today (Monday, Dec. 15) charged a U.S. Marine in the October murder of a transwoman.

According to the Associated Press, Prosecutor Emilie de los Santos found “probable cause” that Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton attacked Jennifer Laude after learning she was trans. He has been in custody since shortly after the October incident.

“It’s murder,” de los Santos said after filing the charge against the 19-year-old Pemberton. “It was aggravated by treachery, abuse of superior strength and cruelty.”

Pemberton will not be allowed to post bail, she said. Murder is punishable by up to 40 years in jail, reported The Guardian.

“This is not an ordinary murder. This is heinous because she was beaten up,” the Laude family lawyer, Harry Roque, told reporters.

Pemberton and friends met Laude and other woman the night of the murder. According to witnesses, Pemberton and Laude checked into a motel, and Pemberton fled after he killed Laude.

Marine Lance Corporal Jairn Michael Rose was among those with Pemberton that night. He told prosecutors Pemberton admitted to the murder back at their ship.

“I think I killed a he/she,” Pemberton said, according to Rose.

The incident reignited a debate between the Philippines and the United States regarding custody of U.S. military personnel accused of crimes in the Phillipines. U.S. officials evenutally agreed to move Pemberton from custody aboard a U.S. Navy vessel into the custody of Phillipino officials.

The case is a haunting reminder to transgender activists of the case of  U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith, who was sentenced to 40 years in jail in 2006 after being found guilty of raping a transwoman. He was, however, acquitted in 2009 after his accuser recanted her statement.

—  James Russell

Police still looking for leads in September murder of gay man on Cedar Springs

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Joseph Chase

Dallas Police are still looking for information regarding the murder of a gay man beaten to death early in the morning of Sept. 25 at the corner of Cedar Springs Road and Throckmorton Street.

According to the DPD Blog, officers were flagged down at about 2:30 a.m. regarding a man, later identified as 54-year-old Joseph Chase who was lying unconscious on the sidewalk near the intersection, suffering from possible head trauma.

Dallas Fire Rescue took Chase to Parkland Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Officials with the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office told police that Chase had suffered blunt force injuries to his neck area and ruled his death a homicide.

Investigators later found video footage of the attack on Chase taken by nearby surveillance cameras — you can see the video below. The footage was captured on a camera across the street from where the attack occurred. It is dark and the incident with Chase is seen from a distance and is partially obscured by a tree on the sidewalk. The footage, however, appears to show two unknown suspects involved in an altercation with Chase, and one of the suspects hitting Chase and knocking him to the ground.

Passersby who saw Chase on the ground flagged down police.

“At this time, no eyewitnesses to the assault/homicide have come forward,” according to the DPD Blog. “This offense is documented on Incident Report #230525-2014.”

Homicide Det. Derick Chaney is lead investigator on the case, and he asked for Dallas Voice’s help earlier this month in trying to find witnesses or anyone with information regarding the attack on Joseph Chase. We ran this post, which was viewed more than 700 times, at that time, but Chaney said this week that he has received no information at all on the case.

Chaney asks again that anyone with any information regarding the attack on Joseph Chase call him at 214-671-3650.

—  Tammye Nash

Jon Buice again denied parole in 1991 gay bashing murder

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Jon Christopher Buice

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted today, Tuesday, Oct. 21, to once again deny convicted killer Jon Christopher Buice’s request for parole.Buice, now 40 years old, was one of 10 men — ranging in age at the time from 16 to 22 — convicted of the 1991 murder of Paul Broussard, a Houston gay man who was beaten and stabbed to death after leaving a gay bar in the Montrose neighborhood on July 4.

It was Broussard’s murder that prompted then-Texas Gov. Ann Richards to call a special session of the Texas Legislature to pass the state’s first hate crimes law in 1993.

Andy Kahan, a victim advocate for the city of Houson, said Tuesday, “Since Jon made the deliberate conscious effort to deprive Paul of his life, all we can do in return is to deprive him of his liberty and today we at least accomplished that for another year.”

Dallas Voice is waiting for comments from Broussard’s mother, Nancy Rodriguez, who was worked diligently since her son’s death to see his killers convicted, and to keep Buice in jail.

Buice, who admitted at trial that he was the one that inflicted the stab wound that actually killed Broussard, was sentenced to 45 years in prison. He was denied parole in 2007 and in 2009. In 2011, the Board of Pardons and Parole initially granted Buice’s request for parole but then reversed its decision following an outcry by the LGBT community and Rodriguez.

Buice’s was denied parole again in 2012, 2013 and today. Raymond Estrada, spokesman for the Board of Pardons and Paroles, said the reason given for denying parole was “the nature of the offense.” He said Buice is up for review again on Oct. 1, 2015.

—  Tammye Nash

Arlington woman executed for killing girlfriend’s son

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Lisa Ann Coleman

The state of Texas tonight (Wednesday, Sept. 17) executed a woman convicted eight years ago of intentionally starving her girlfriend’s son to death. Lisa Ann Coleman, 38, was pronounced dead at 6:24 p.m., CDT, 12 minutes after Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials began administering a lethal injection.

Coleman and her then-girlfriend, Marcella Williams, were arrested in 2004 in after calling paramedics to their home in Arlington to treat Williams’ 9-year-old son, Davontae Williams. Paramedics found the child already deceased and in rigor mortis. They said they were shocked to learn how old he was since the child, at the time of his death, weighed only about 36 pounds.

Authorities later determined that Davontae had more than 250 distinct injuries, including burns from cigarettes or cigars and scars from ligatures, and that a lack of food made him stop growing.

Coleman’s attorneys claimed at trial that the boy’s death was an accident and that his injuries and malnourishment were a result of Coleman’s and Williams’ misguided efforts to discipline the boy. They also claimed that Davontae may have had mental health issues that made him hard to handle, and that Coleman and his mother didn’t know how to deal with him.

The Texas Court of Crimimal Appeals upheld Coleman’s conviction in 2009, and the U.S. Supreme Court today rejected  a last-day appeal.

Marcella Williams agreed to plead guilty in connection with her son’s death, to avoid the death penalty, and was sentenced to life in prison. Now 33, she is not eligible for parole until 2044.

—  Tammye Nash

1 killed, 1 injured in break-in in Fort Worth

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Miguel Angel Hernandez

Dallas Voice has learned that a member of Celebration Community Church was killed and another was severely injured by a man who broke into their home on Fort Worth’s west side early Sunday morning.

According to reports in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, James Bowling, 56, was killed when he and Don Keaton, 82, confronted the intruder, identified by police as Miguel Angel Hernandez, 29.

According to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s website, Bowling was strangled to death. The Medical Examiner places his time of death at 3:06 a.m.

Police said Keaton suffered multiple blunt force injuries and that both men suffered chemical burns that could have resulted from Hernandez throwing drain cleaner on him. They said Keaton may have suffered permanent damage to his eyes from the cleaner.

Celebration Community Church Pastor Carol West said that Keaton and Bowling had been members of her church for “at least 15 or 16 years” and were both active in “quite a few aspects of our church’s ministry.”

“They were both wonderful, loving men. Just good, good men, very good-hearted,” West said Tuesday. “This attack was just so random. It is really scary for a lot of people in our congregation that it was so random and so violent.”

Police believe Hernandez chose Keaton and Bowling’s home at random. Patrol officers found him sitting in his own truck, naked, two houses down, according to Star-Telegram reports. Police said he took off his bloody clothes and left them in the yard of Keaton and Bowling’s home, but left the keys to his vehicle in he pocket of his pants in the yard.

Hernandez was treated for multiple cuts, apparently incurred when he jumped through a window to escape the house, and booked into the Mansfield Jail. He was already wanted on outstanding warrants, including one for a parole violation on a sexual assault charge from 2010 for failing to register as a sex offender, and on a warrant for insufficient bail on a pending DWI charge. He has been convicted in Tarrant County on charges of assault with bodily injury and failure to identify, as well as DWI and sexual assault.

—  Tammye Nash

Transgender news briefs

Trans woman murdered in Baltimore

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Mia Henderson

Baltimore City Police announced July 16 that they are investigating the murder of trans woman Mia Henderson, sister of NBA player Reggie Bullock. Henderson, 26, is at least the second trans woman killed in Baltimore in as many months. According to a press release from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, her murder is “the latest in a string of Baltimore area homicides in the last two months in which transgender women have been killed.”

Baltimore police Investigators said officers serving a warrant just before 6 a.m. in the 3400 block of Piedmont Avenue found Henderson’s body in an alley. They said the victim had “suffered severe trauma.”

Police said it was too early to tell if the case is related to a similar one a month ago in which another transgender woman was killed. The body of 40-year-old Ricky Hall, known as Kandy, was found stabbed on June 4 in a field near Coldstream Park Elementary-Middle School in northeast Baltimore, according to reports by WBALTV News 11.

 

USDA adopts trans protections

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has added gender identity protections to its federal nondiscrimination regulations regarding programs or activities conducted by the department. This makes USDA is the first federal agency to issue regulations banning gender identity discrimination in all activities conducted by any employee of the department, according to an NGLTF press release issued today.

“Fifteen years ago, the USDA paved the way on federal rights for LGBT people by becoming the first agency to add sexual orientation nondiscrimination protections. Yesterday, the USDA once again demonstrated their leadership and commitment to equality by extending nondiscrimination protections to transgender people in every program the department operates,” NGLTF Executive Director Rea Carey said.

 

Report: Nearly two-thirds of Massachusetts trans people suffer discrimination

The Fenway Institute and Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition have released their Project VOICE report on transgender discrimination in public accommodations, which found that nearly two-thirds of trans residents of Massachusetts have experienced discrimination in a public accommodation setting in the last 12 years. Those experiencing discrimination were nearly twice as likely to report adverse physical and mental health outcomes, the report indicated.

The state’s Gender Identity Nondiscrimination Act, passed in 2011 and implemented in 2012, does not cover public accommodations.

Other findings reported in the study include:

• Overall, 65 percent of respondents reported discrimination in one or more public accommodation settings in the past 12 months.

• The five most prevalent settings in which discrimination was experienced were transportation (36 percent), retail (28 percent), restaurants (26 percent), public gatherings (25 percent) and health care facilities/services (24 percent).

• Those reported incidences of discrimination had an 84 percent increased risk of adverse physical symptoms, such as headaches, upset stomach or pounding heart, in the last 30 days and 99 percent increased risk of emotional symptoms in the past 30 days.

• 28 percent of respondents reported they had not seen a doctor in the last year.

• 29 percent reported having to teach their health care provider about transgender health issues in the last year.

The Massachusetts Legislature is currently considering passage of the Equal Access Bill, which would improve access to public accommodations for trans people there.

Download a copy of the complete report here.

 

European Court of Human Rights rules against trans woman in marriage case

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the country of Finland did not violate the human rights of a trans woman by requiring that her marriage be downgraded to a registered partnership in order for her to be legally recognized as a woman.

Before gender reassignment surgery, Ms. Hamalainen had married a woman, and Finnish authorities argued that legally recognizing her gender as female without ending her marriage would result in a same-sex marriage, which is not allowed under Finnish law.

Evelyne Paradis, executive director of ILGA-Europe, said: “The Finnish authorities argued and the European Court agreed that Ms Hamalainen’s family did not suffer disproportionately by their marriage being downgraded to a registered partnership as a registered partnership is almost identical to marriage in terms of rights and protections. Nevertheless, the court missed an important opportunity to condemn humiliating and discriminatory practices across Europe requiring trans people to end their existing marriage to obtain legal gender recognition.”

Trans people must end existing marriages to partners of the same-gender as they are post-transition to obtain legal gender recognition in 32 of 49 European countries.

—  Tammye Nash

Suspect arrested in 2-year-old murder of Mollie Olgin

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David Malcolm Strickland

A suspect has been arrested in the murder of Mollie Olgin and shooting of Kristene Chapa in Portland, Tex.

According to the local NBC affiliate, David Malcolm Strickland, 27, was arrested along with his wife, Laura Kimberly, 23, on Friday by U.S. Marshals and Texas Rangers in the San Antonio suburb of Helotes.

The attack took place two years ago and stunned the LGBT community throughout Texas. Dallas activist Cd Kirven collected funds for Portland’s crime stoppers program and organized a local vigil.

The murder took place in a park in the coastal Texas town. Olgin was found dead and Chapa has been recovering from her injuries. According to the NBC report, she is still receiving physical therapy.

Told about the capture of the suspect, Chapa told the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, “It will never take back the pain and hurt he did to our families. And it won’t bring Mollie back.”

 

 

—  David Taffet

Police ask for help in identifying murderer of Joshua Tubbleville

tubb-publicDallas Police released the video below of an individual fleeing from murder victim Joshua Tubbleville’s wrecked vehicle. Detectives need help identifying the individual shown in the footage.

He’s described as a black male 6’1″ tall, in his early 20s.  He was seen wearing tan pants, a yellow shirt with a red stripe and a leopard print baseball cap. If anyone has information on this offense, please contact Det. Sayers at 214-671-3647.

—  David Taffet

Vigils planned across Texas for murdered Houston lesbian couple

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Four vigils are scheduled throughout Texas on Wednesday night to remember the lives of a Houston lesbian couple killed earlier this month.

Britney Cosby and Crystal Jackson, both 24, were found in a trash bin near Port Bolivar on March 7. They’d been a couple for two years.

Cosby’s father, James Larry Cosby, was arrested for tampering with evidence in the case. He remains a suspect in the women’s’ deaths. Cosby’s mother told Houston media outlets over the weekend that her daughter’s father was upset she was gay, and she believed he killed them because of their sexual orientation.

Galveston detectives are still searching for a man who police believe was last seen with the women and information about the couple’s Kia Sorrento that was stolen. A $150 reward for information has been raised through a fund Dallas GetEQUAL TX activist C.d. Kirven started.

“We want to celebrate the way Britney and Crystal lived and not the way they died. They were a part of a community, an LGBT family that mourns their loss,” Kirven said about the vigils in a statement.

She said the Galveston vigil was canceled, and a Fort Wirth vigil  was added, along with vigils in Dallas, Austin and Corpus Christi.

Tiffani Bishop, co-state lead organizer for GetEQUAL TX said, “The tragic murders of Britney and Crystal are truly heartbreaking. To discover that Britney’s father is suspected of committing these crimes is difficult to wrap my head around. It is beyond time that our community begin an open and honest dialogue about violence against queer women of color.”

People attending vigils or who want to show support for the women’s memory are asked to wear yellow in the memory of Cosby and Jackson.

Other vigils are still being solidified, including one for Williamson County. GetEQUAL TX will update vigil information on its Facebook page.

Anyone with information about the case should call the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office tip line at 866-248-8477 or Galveston County Crime Stoppers 409-763-8477.

Locations of the Texas vigils are below.

—  Dallasvoice

Equality Texas calls on police, public to help solve lesbian couple’s death

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A sketch of the man who police believe was the last person to be seen with the women.

Statewide LGBT advocacy organization Equality Texas is calling on the Department of Justice and local police to solve the deaths of a lesbian couple found dead in Port Bolivar over the weekend.

Britney Cosby and Crystal Jackson, both 24, were found Friday morning near the trash bin of a convenience store. Police have since released a sketch of the man who was last seen with the women.

Police believe the women were killed somewhere else before being moved to the trash bin. They were in Galveston County last week celebrating Mardi Gras before family members lost contact with them. Autopsy reports this week revealed that Cosby died of blunt force trauma and Jackson was shot to death.

“Equality Texas is deeply saddened by this murder, and our hearts and prayers are with Ms. Cosby’s and Ms. Jackson’s family and friends during this difficult time,” Equality Texas Executive Director Chuck Smith said in a statement. “For many in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community this is a stark reminder that nearly a third of Texas’ hate crimes are motivated by bias against sexual orientation.  A report issued last year by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs found that 73.1 percent of all anti-LGBT homicide victims in 2012 were people of color.

“I have faith that the Galveston County Sheriff’s department is working hard to bring closure to this senseless tragedy and will work with the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Department of Justice to fully investigate,” Smith added.

GetEQUAL TX activist Cd Kirven has set up a reward fund to encourage people to come forward with information. All money collected will go to Galveston County Crime Stoppers. Donations can be online here or checks and money orders can be mailed to Captain Cook with the Galveston County Crime Stoppers at 601 54th St. Galveston, TX 77551.

Investigators are seeking the public’s help in identifying the man in the sketch and locating the couple’s silver 2006 Kia Sorrento with paper tags. Anyone with information about the case should contact the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office tip line at 866-248-8477.

—  Dallasvoice