Monday, August 25, 2008

Shooter Of Trans Woman Convicted Of Voluntary Manslaughter

TransGriot Note: Here we go again. Another murderer put on trial for killing a transwoman of color, another one who gets off. It's depressingly consistent whether the trial happens in Memphis, TN or London, England.

By Timothy Cwiek
PGN Writer-at-Large
Philadelphia Gay News, PA, USA

A Philadelphia judge has acquitted the killer of a trans woman of murder charges, despite an impassioned plea by the prosecutor that malice was behind the shooting.

At the end of a three-hour bench trial on Aug. 18, Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart convicted Terron Oates of voluntary manslaughter in the death of Alexis King.

Oates, 20, of the Olney section, faces a minimum of five years in prison when he is sentenced next month, but could be released within the next 30 months because of credit for time served.

Police arrested Oates after the February 2006 incident and he has been incarcerated since then.

Minehart didn't explain his ruling, but it appears he accepted the defense's position that Oates acted in the heat of passion after he picked up King for sex in February 2006, then shot her twice after realizing she was a biological male.

Assistant D.A. MK Feeney argued for a first-degree murder conviction or, as an alternative, a third-degree- murder conviction. She said the evidence indicated that Oates targeted King because of her transgender status.

But defense attorney Brian McMonagle stressed the youth and naiveté of his client when he went out looking for sex about 5 a.m. Feb. 1, 2006, at Broad and Spring Garden streets.

He said Oates wasn't aware that transgender sex workers frequented the area. He didn't know King was a biological male until she became sexually aggressive inside Oates' car and indicated that she had a penis. Then, Oates went into a frenzy and shot her twice in the heat of passion, McMonagle said.

Feeney scoffed at that defense.

"Mr. Oates isn't so naïve that he can't find a gun," she said. "He has an illegal gun in his car, he's out at five o'clock in the morning on a school night and he's going to a strip club when he's underage. He's sophisticated enough to be doing those things. Yet the defense portrayed him as an innocent, naïve little boy."

Oates told police he didn't realize King's biological status until King grabbed Oates' hand and placed it on King's penis, inside the car.

Oates did not testify during the trial but his early statements to police were read for the record.

However, Sgt. Daniel Dutch, who's worked undercover as a "john" in the area, testified that he's never heard of — nor experienced — such behavior by a transgender sex worker.

To the contrary, transgender sex workers normally go out of their way to avoid having the johns touch their penises, Dutch said.

And medic William Murphy, who administered emergency care to King after she was shot, testified that King's penis was "tucked" between her legs, held in place by her panties, when he got to her.

The shooting happened in the Nicetown section, near the intersection of Bott and Kerbaugh streets. King was shot twice, from the side and rear, according to the medical examiner's report.

Her body was found about 120 feet from Oates' car, where she collapsed in a pool of blood, evidently trying to run for safety, said Feeney.

McMonagle said the shooting happened during "pandemonium" in Oates' car, after he felt King's penis, tussled with her for Oates' pistol, then King moved toward him.

But Feeney refuted that scenario.

"At no time was she ever coming toward him when he shot her, because she was shot from the side and rear," Feeney said. "That tells you right there that the defendant is lying. If you're coming toward someone, your front would get shot."

She said Oates' actions after the shooting also contradict a heat-of-passion defense.

"He immediately got rid of the weapon," Feeney continued. "If you can't think straight, you're not going to do that. Then he calls 911, does this act on the phone about a robbery and unknown gunman and lies to the responding officer and detectives. To me, that shows a pretty good presence of mind, don't you think?"

She said Oates tried to flee the scene but was stymied because his car wouldn't start. "But for the fact that his car wouldn't start and he was stuck at the scene, we'd probably never even know who killed Alexis King," Feeney said.

Minehart scheduled sentencing for 10 a.m. Sept. 29 in Courtroom 602 of the Criminal Justice Center, 1315 Filbert St.

Timothy Cwiek can be reached at (215) 625-8501 ext. 208

© 2008 Philadelphia Gay News


Polar said...

Minehart is an idiot, but that's not unique among judges. It's not first-degree murder, but it should be second degree, and the fact that this clown is not getting at least 20 years or more, is a complete travesty.

Is Minehart running for re-election anytime soon? Chances of getting him ousted on the outcome of this case? Paint him as being easy on violent street crime?

We have another murderer of a transgender person getting out in months, not years. Do we have to become vigilantes, since the justice system has clearly failed? I'm surprised that hasn't happened yet.

Véronique said...

What kind of a bogus charge is "voluntary manslaughter?" I always thought manslaughter was involuntary -- like vehicular homicide. I agree with Polar -- murder 2 at the very least, if not murder 1. This looks like an INjustice system.

Eboni T-Girl said...

High Monica, I wish we were commenting under better circumstances. However this topic draws my thanks from you. I say this, becuase as a transistah myself, I am glad that you stand as a voice and champion among us so that our everyday lives can be heard.

Our joys as well as our pain, such as in the event of such another useless killing is brought to the light. I am sad that another one of our own fell to the hands of this killer. Philadelphia is no city of brotherly love, let alone trans love. But once agian I do thank you for your determination to do what many of us have not. I learn alot from you, and have studied everything that you have written. You are very intelligent, and someday I hope to be as knowledgeble as you are. I look up to you, and place you as high as any of our African American scholars........PAST OR PRESENT.

The reason why I am responding to this post, is becuase we need new hate law legislation, or atleast reformed current legislation. After being betrayed by the "equal sign" we need to find a better political way to protect ourselves. I heard you and other trans people started a group to counter the equal sign.....aka....HRC. Is that true

You see if a working girl got into a car, and the jon realized that the working girl was a Jew, and not another desired ethnicity, then he would have been convicted under hate legislation. Yet once a jon find out that a working girl is transgender, then we are game for any pervert's violence?????? That is ashame. They treat us as if we are not even human.

Oh and I do not know if I mentioned it, but I am from Philadelphia.

Keep up the good work Monica!!!

aoc gold said...

The Star

Twinkle, twinkle, little star!

How I wonder what you are,

Up above the world so high,

Like a diamond in the sky.


When the blazing sun is gone,

When he nothing shines upon,

Then you show your little light,

Twinkle, twinkle all the night.

The dark blue sky you keep

And often thro' my curtains peep,

For you never shut your eye

Till the sun is in the sky.


'Tis your bright and tiny spark

Lights the traveler in the dark;

Though I know not what you are
Twinkle, twinkle, little star!

-----by aoc power leveling

Monica Roberts said...

Thanks for the kind words. I felt somebody had to step up for us.

But thank God I'm not the only AA tranperson out ther willing to speak up and represent our community. There are others like Marisa Richmond who's sitting in the Pepsi Center right now.

The organization I helped found in 1999 was called NTAC and I helped put together its political lobbying plan.

NTAC was envisioned as a multicultural transgender organization. However, some white transgender people had a problem with the 'multicultural' part of that.

In addition to that, those people believed that NTAC's position that HRC needed to be confronted about their BS was 'horizontal hostility'. Those people founded NCTE in 2003 and embarked on a policy of appeasing HRC.

That worked as well as Neville Chamberlain appeasing a certain European dictator.

Lisa Harney said...

I'm not sure this wasn't premeditated, but maybe I'm paranoid - he was out, with a gun, looking in the right neighborhood for trans women sex workers, and his story is so obviously not what happened, that I find it hard to believe.

But yes, at least murder 2.