May 26, 2011 at 7:18 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
D.C. man sentenced to 40 years in gay murder

A D.C. Superior Court judge on Tuesday sentenced District resident Justin Navarro, 26, to 40 years in prison for the November 2009 murder of a gay man that prosecutors listed as an anti-gay hate crime.

A Superior Court jury in March found Navarro guilty of first-degree murder while armed, obstruction of justice, evidence tampering, and carrying a dangerous weapon in the stabbing death of Kevin Massey, 31, inside Massey’s apartment in Northwest D.C.

Although the jury declined a request by prosecutors to designate the murder as a hate crime, the United States Attorney’s Office urged Judge Lynn Leibovitz to consider the killing a hate crime in her deliberations over the sentence.

In announcing her sentence, Leibovitz called Navarro’s action a “senseless and brutal murder.” Prosecutors said Navarro stabbed Massey at least 18 times while calling him a “faggot.”

During the trial, witnesses testified that the murder stemmed from an incident one month earlier in which Massey pulled up Navarro’s pants while Navarro was being carried out of Massey’s apartment building. Prosecutors said Navarro was so high on PCP that he couldn’t walk, and that Massey merely tried to help him when his pants began to fall as he was being helped out of the building.

Witnesses testified that Navarro blamed Massey for the ridicule he began to receive from people who knew him and who joked that Navarro was gay and was one of Massey’s “bitches.” Massey was known in the neighborhood as being gay.

Prosecutors said that on Nov. 6, 2009, someone who knew Massey allowed Navarro to enter Massey’s apartment, apparently not knowing Navarro’s intent to harm Massey. Navarro went to the kitchen, retrieved a butcher’s knife and, in an unprovoked attack, stabbed Massey repeatedly in the back and upper body while calling him anti-gay names, prosecutors said.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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