Sunday, August 17, 2008

Kellie Telesford Murderer Gets Off

Across The Pond, they've had their own high profile transgender murder trial going on. Unfortunately the results are depressingly familiar to those of us who are transgender, a transperson of color and live on this side of the Atlantic.

18 year old Shanniel Hyatt was cleared of murdering 39 year old florist and beautician Kellie Telesford. She'd met Hyatt outside the south London beauty salon where she worked just hours before she was killed.

Ms. Telesford's worried friends, who knew she rarely went anywhere without having her phone by her side and hadn't been able to successfully contact her called police. She was found strangled to death with a brown scarf around her neck in her locked South London apartment on November 21, 2007.

According to trial testimony, when paramedics found her body, the scarf was tied so tightly around her neck they could only get the tips of their fingers inside. There were also partial DNA traces from Shanniel Hyatt on the scarf it as well.

Hyatt admitted he gone out on a date with Telesford on November 18 while his girlfriend was out of town with their baby. Hyatt met her at the Norbury train station and rode back to Telesford's apartment for a drink and to watch DVD's.

He claimed she performed a sex act on him and denied that he killed Kellie Telesford in a transphobic rage after discovering she was a pre-op transwoman.

According to prosecutor Sally O'Neill, her body was on the floor with only her feet and right hand poking out from a "carefully" draped white throw. The apartment showed signs of disturbance, appearing to have been searched and items stolen such as Kellie's mobile phone, electronic equipment and her Oyster card.

CCTV images and mobile telephone records show Hyatt used Ms. Telesford's Oyster card to catch the bus from her home. He was carrying a "big bag, probably containing other items that he had stolen", according to Ms. O'Neill.

When Hyatt was arrested he told police he did not kill Ms. Telesford and had not even been aware that she was biologically male at the time. He insisted that she was alive at the time he left her apartment, with that departure time and his story changing several times during repeated questioning by police after his November 29 arrest.

Hyatt's defense attorney Joanna Greenberg admitted her client was a "cheap and nasty thief" but repeated his claim that Ms. Telesford was "fit and well" when he left her apartment. She then incredulously suggested that Kellie may have died during a consensual sex game which went wrong, or that she may have inflicted her fatal injuries herself.

Greenberg also claimed in her defense argument that there were no signs that Ms. Telesford fought Mr Hyatt, even though she had "a man's strength".

Say what?

Yeah, right. We transwomen of color are not only exotic sex fiends with large sex organs and superhuman strength, but have magical powers and abilities far beyond the capabilities of biowomen, too. But if it flies in the face of logic and scientific evidence and works to get your apartment robbing murderous transphobic client off, so be it. Gotta blame that trannie for her own death and trash her reputation while you're at it.

Even though Hyatt was acquitted of manslaughter and murder charges, he's still in custody pending a deportation hearing back to Jamaica, mon.

Why am I not surprised he's from the most homophobic and transphobic place on earth?

And once again, the family of a slain transgender person is left wondering why this senseless murder happened and why the justice system once again failed to convict the killer.

I can only hope and pray we have better results with Angie Zapata's killer.


Renee said...

I do not even have the words at this point. Saying this is yet another miscarriage of justice does not even come close to expressing how I feel about this verdict. When will we finally learn to value all women

Monica Roberts said...

Sounds like a tired broken record doesn't it?

Transgender murderer gets off or gets minimum jail time.

Maddie H said...

Someone, somewhere else suggested the possibility that the way the trial was structured included the vibe that if Hyatt didn't know she was trans, then he obviously didn't kill her.

That's in addition to discrediting Kellie herself with the inane dangerous sex talk, which was necessary to explain her death if Hyatt didn't do it.

The fact that he walked out of Kellie's home with so much stuff makes it impossible for me to believe he left her alive, and that the primary reason he got off was because of the way trans panic was invoked during the trial.

Monica Roberts said...

I also read that her murder was how Kellie's family back in Trinidad found out she'd transitioned.

NonDigna said...

Yes, it's very sad. I just think there's no need to underline all the time that the victim is a trans woman "of colour" as if it changed anything. It can happen to every transsexual person if she/he doesn't take care. Besides, the accused is a man of colour, too (fortunately he will be thrown out of Europe now), but it doesn't mean that all black men are killers.

Monica Roberts said...

Trans women of color make up over 70 percent of the transpeople falling victim to anti-transgender violence.

So yes, I need to highlight that fact not only to drive home the point to non-white people, but non transpeople of people of color as well.