Richland Hills woman charged with anti-gay hate crime dies

Wanda Derby

Wanda Derby, the 72-year-old Richland Hills woman charged with assaulting her gay neighbor, has died.

Derby had a court hearing Monday, Jan. 14. Christopher McGregor, the Tarrant County assistant district attorney assigned to Derby’s case, said he received her death certificate late last week. He said she passed away Nov. 25, but it takes a while before they notify the courts.

“Based on that, we have dismissed the assault cases against her,” he said.

—  Anna Waugh

Richland Hills hate crime victim starts group

Lloyd Guerrero, a victim of a hate crime in Richland Hills March 28, explains how he was attacked with a cain by his 71-year-old neighbor.

The 25-year-old victim of a hate crime in Richland Hills March 28 is taking preventative measures into his own hands with a new organization to help those who have been attacked to speak out.

Lloyd Guerrero was beaten with a cane by his 71-year-old neighbor Wanda Derby while he was trying to help her son move in to his family’s apartment next door.

Derby allegedly attacked him and called him “faggot,” later allegedly telling police she thought he would give her son AIDS because Guerrero is gay.

Although he sustained minor bruises from the incident, he said other incidents that his friends have encountered over the years from people that were never caught pushed him to use his personal experience to help others speak out for justice. The next day, March 29, he started working on Project: Blue Voice.

“I’m not so much doing it for me anymore. I’m doing it for all those people who can’t or won’t speak out,” he said. “If it helps one person, then that’s awesome and that would make me feel like I helped.”

The project originally began on Facebook, he said, as a page to bring hate crime attacks to the attention of the public and encourage those who have survived attacks to come forward and report them.

But Guerrero said the page was not enough. The project grew into an organization and Guerrero has filed for nonprofit status with Texas. He launched a website Sunday and is now incorporating videos on YouTube. He has already filmed a video speaking about his experience but has not yet uploaded it to the sites.

Videos are intended for victims of hate crimes to wear half of a plain blue Phantom of the Opera-type mask to hide part of their identity while sharing their story. Family members who share stories of loved ones whom they have lost to violence should wear the entire mask to show that they are speaking for someone that can no longer speak for themselves, he said.

The blue mask is a symbol of the organization, and Guerrero said he took the color from Facebook because that’s where the group started and also decided to use blue because of the black and blue bruises that physically heal but remain emotionally intact after violent acts.

He said he wants the project to go national with input and participation to make the public aware that hate crimes happen everywhere but are not always reported.

“What we want to accomplish nationally is that these things [hate crimes] are happening and people are getting away with it,” he said. “People aren’t talking about it. If they see other people speaking out, then maybe they’ll feel more comfortable talking about it.”

Guerrero said he has received more than 100 emails and Facebook messages from LGBT youth and family members who have contacted him to share their stories. The stories brought tears to his tears and made him realize the potential he has to help prevent future violence.

“It made me cry because people can’t say anything because they’re too scared to,” he said. “The further we can go with [the project], the better chance we have of preventing things from happening.”

 

—  Anna Waugh

WATCH: Victim of anti-gay hate crime speaks out

Wanda Derby

The 25-year-old victim of an anti-gay hate crime in Richland Hills on March 28 has been interviewed by several TV stations over the last few days, showing the bruises he received during the attack.

Lloyd Guerrero was helping his neighbor move in after his neighbor had a falling out with his mother, Wanda Derby. Derby became angry and began beating Guerrero with her cane, according to police.

Derby, 71, allegedly called Guerrero “faggot” several times while beating him and trying to choke him. Guerrero told Dallas Voice that when he moved in with his mother a few months ago while in town on business, Derby began attacking him on Facebook.

Guerrero grew up in the apartment next door to Derby and was surprised by the virtual attacks, which escalated from calling him gay — something he said he isn’t open about unless asked — to writing that he has AIDS.

“That’s a social network. You don’t just go and blab something like that out,” Guerrero told Fox 4 News.

Guerrero said he doesn’t have AIDS and suffered minor scrapes and bruises during the incident.

Derby was arrested and released on a $11,500 bond Thursday. She faces second-degree charges for assault with a deadly weapon, but the charge is upgraded to a first-degree felony because of the hate-crime classification. She faces up to life in prison.

Watch some of the TV coverage after the jump.

—  Anna Waugh