10 June 2013

Killer of Trans College Student Gets 30 Years

Every Transgender Day of Remembrance event I've attended has included a reading of the names of people who were killed for their gender identity or expression.  Usually, there is a procession to a lectern or microphone, and each person reads the name of one victim, the way he or she was killed (or where his or her body was found) and, sometimes, whether or not the perpetrator was caught.

No matter how many times I participate in those readings, I'm always shocked at just how brutal hate-fueled murders of transgender people are.  I remember reading the name of one victim who was shot and stabbed multiple times.  And then her body was burned.  

But, along with the shock I experience on relaying the brutality of their murders, I feel anger over how too many of those murders are treated.  The killer of the victim I mentioned received, if I recall correctly, a one-year susupended sentence.  Still, that's more justice than a lot of other murdered trans people get:  I've heard of too many cases in which the authorities didn't bother to investigate at all, or simply dismissed the killing as the result of a "lover's quarrel" or as a suicide.

So, it actually seems something like justice when the killer of a young trans person gets a 30-year sentence and is required to serve 80 percent of that sentence before becoming eligible for release.  

That was the sentence meted out to Virgin Islands native Sama Quinland for killing transgender college student DeAndre N. Fulton-Smith in South Carolina. Quinland stabbed her 22 times and shot her twice in the head. 

As awful as that killing was, it's not even close to being the most brutal murder of a trans person.  On the other hand, as I mentioned, Quinland got a longer prison sentence than most killers of trans people.  Both facts are simply outrageous.

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