Man who beat transgender teen to death gets first ever hate crime conviction

Man who beat transgender teen to death gets first ever hate crime conviction

A man accused of murdering his transgender ex-partner has pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime charge – the first such conviction in US history.

17-year-old Alabama teenager Mercedes Williamson was beaten to death with a hammer in June 2015.

Her ex-boyfriend Joshua Vallum, now 29, was arrested and charged with the murder, and later admitted targeting her because of her transition. In addition to his murder conviction, Vallum pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime charge – the first use of hate crime laws in a case involving a transgender victim.

The charge was brought under federal law using the 2009 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr Hate Crimes Prevention Act, as Mississippi hate crime law does not apply to gender identity, the federal law ensured justice was brought.

The Hate Crimes Prevention Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2009, added federal-level hate crime protections for crimes based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. It became law more than a decade on from the homophobic murder of Mathew Shepard that led his parents to campaign for hate crime laws.

After news of the conviction broke, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said: “Our nation’s hate crime statutes advance one of our fundamental beliefs: that no one should have to live in fear because of who they are. Today’s landmark guilty plea reaffirms that basic principle, and it signals the Justice Department’s determination to combat hate crimes based on gender identity.

“While Mississippi convicted the defendant on murder charges, we believe in the fundamental value of identifying and prosecuting these bias-fuelled incidents for what they are: acts of hate.

“By holding accountable the perpetrator of this heinous deed, we reinforce our commitment to ensuring justice for all Americans.”

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division head Vanita Gupta said: “Congress passed the Shepard-Byrd Act to protect our most vulnerable communities, including the transgender community, from harm. No conviction, even such a historic one, can relieve the grief and anguish facing this victim’s family.

“But this guilty plea sends an unequivocal message that violence based on one’s gender identity violates America’s defining values of inclusivity and dignity.

“The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute hate crimes, which not only target individuals for harm, but also deny entire communities the promises of true freedom and equal protection.”

Vallum faces up to life in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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6 Comments

  1. Kristoff
    December 24, 07:01 Reply

    With a ? hammer, ?

    Let Justice rule.

  2. shuga chocolata
    December 24, 07:06 Reply

    No one should ever have to live in fear because of who they are, Nigeria needs this hate crime.

  3. Bryce
    December 24, 10:58 Reply

    Let me get this straight.He’s gay and murdered her cos she transitioned?.

    • Jeova Sanctus Unus
      December 24, 12:42 Reply

      He was a transgender man when he was killed.
      She was a woman but transitioned into a man.
      He killed the man, the murderer is straight.

      • Bryce
        December 25, 00:32 Reply

        Wrong.
        She was male,transitioned to woman.He knew about it when they started dating nd kept it secret for fear of his gang.
        A member learnt of sexual identity later,after they had broken up,and he decided to kill her.
        edition.cnn.com/2016/12/22/politics/mississippi-transgender-hate-crime/

        Vallum is a down low gay guy,in my opinion.

  4. Soltana
    March 01, 18:59 Reply

    Oh Lord why are abusive men, or psychological disturbed men just attracted to Trans women like this, many cases of Trans women killed by their lovers or many of them are abusive to the Trans women or deeply effeminate men. What of the one that was a chef and killed the beautiful Trans lady then went on to cook her, many cases of Trans women in abusive relationships or effeminate men, and they know prior to the relationship that they are Trans. Even Bobrisky’s Bae beats him up and gave him a red eye for argueing with him , controls his movement and we are telling him on snapchat that he is in an abusive relationship with Bae he tells us that he has to be submissive in the relationship. Okay it is Bae that will still kill you

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