I am hoping and praying that the NY Court of Appeals will reinstate the conviction in the case of the People Vs Dwight DeLee.
On November 14, 2008, Dwight DeLee fired a shotgun at close range at my two children. Both were hit and both were wounded. My son, Mark, overcame his injury and shock enough to drive my daughter, Lateisha, to our home to get help. My heart broke into a million pieces when I went outside and looked into Lateisha's eyes as she took her last breaths.
At the trial, it was revealed that DeLee shouted anti-LGBT slurs about Lateisha and Mark before firing the gun. The jury was convinced that DeLee targeted Lateisha because she was a transgender woman. They convicted DeLee of manslaughter as a hate crime and he received a sentence of 25 years. The grief and sadness did not go away, but my family and I had the sense that some form of justice had been done.
The nightmare started all over again in 2010 when a 5 judge panel overturned the conviction, saying that the verdict was inconsistent because the jury found DeLee guilty of manslaughter as a hate crime but not guilty of manslaughter without the hate crimes enhancement.
I was devastated. I couldn't believe it. I had lived through the agony of seeing my child die, having to choose the clothes to bury her in, waking up every day to the horrible reality that she was gone. I had lived through the pain of the trial where the prosecutor presented a picture of the bullet wounds that took her life and the bloody clothes she was wearing when she died. I had to hear every detail of the last minutes of Lateisha's life. Now I have to go back through that experience all over again. It's so unfair to me, my family and community and to every transgender woman who lives in fear of hateful violence happening to her, but it is especially unfair to Lateisha. She was a beautiful loving spirit who was expressing herself as who she was. And for that, she was targeted by a man who has been released.
Since 2008 when my daughter's life was taken, more than ninety transgender people have been murdered in the United States. Each time this happens, a family and community has to live through the anguish that I have had to live through. The fact is that Dwight DeLee was only the second person to be convicted of a hate crime murder against a transgender woman, which makes his release send an even worse message. It's time that violence against transgender women is taken seriously in the criminal justice system.
By reinstating the conviction the New York State Appeals Court can send a message that Lateisha's life matters and that the lives of all transgender women matter. I continue to ask New York State to serve justice for my daughter, and I ask you to join me. Please visit the Justice for Lateisha Green petition website and show your support for the reinstatement of the conviction of Dwight DeLee.