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Trans Maryland rallies at Supreme Court

Committee vote expected in state House of Delegates this month

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(Blade photo by Michael Key)

Activists from Trans Maryland and their allies held a rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday to demand that lawmakers reinstate language barring discrimination in public accommodations to the proposed Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Bill in Maryland.

The bill, if passed, would bar discrimination based on gender identity in employment and housing.

Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk (D-Prince George’s and Anne Arundel Counties), a strong LGBT rights supporter who has sponsored a transgender rights bill in the legislature since 2007, said she removed the public accommodations provision after determining it was the only way to obtain enough votes to pass the legislation.

“The bottom line is discrimination is not right,” she told the Blade. “I have had this bill now for over three years and initially I introduced it with the section on public accommodations, which I believe in.”

Ashley Love, a transgender and intersex advocate attending the rally, told the Blade, “If the bill is passed in its compromised form, a transsexual woman may gain the protection to keep her job as a nurse at a Maryland hospital, but she could be denied emergency room care in the same hospital she is employed at if the staff were transphobic. For instance, Tyra Hunter was refused care for serious injuries by EMS worker Adrian Williams, and later by the physician. As a result, she died. Without public accommodations protections, this bill has no merit.”

A committee vote on the measure in the Maryland House of Delegates is expected later this month.

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Autumn Sandeen

    March 18, 2011 at 6:04 am

    It needs to be clarified that even though Ashley Love identifies as a transsexual, she doesn’t identify as transsexual. She might consider herself to be an activist for transgender people, but she isn’t a transgender activist.

    And beyond that, she has a history of calling transgender identified people she disagrees with by anti-transgender terminology, and has misgemder transgender people (such as Kate Bornstein, Brittney Novotney, and myself), as well as speaking ill of drag performers and genderqueer identified people as classes of people.

    In my mind, it’s a misnomer to call her a transgender activist, so quoting her as a transgender activist is probably a questionable identifier.

    • Jenna Fischetti

      March 18, 2011 at 10:51 am

      If she speaks on behalf of the best interest of the members of Maryland’s Transgender community, in my mind, AS a Marylander, as a transsexual woman, and as an activist, she is a transgender activist.

      However, those seeking to deny members of the transgender community their basic rights because those interests do not conform to the interests of national organizations seeking to impose their will in state level affairs, CAN NOT hold themselves up as transgender activist, they are shills for large national non profits. This includes Lisa Mottet, Director of the Transgender Civil Rights Project. Not a member of the transgender community.

      I know where I stand.

      Jenna Fischetti
      TransMaryland.org

    • Frankie James

      March 18, 2011 at 12:03 pm

      Stick and stones… come on ladies / men.

      “…speaking ill of drag performers and genderqueer identified people as classes of people.”

      – There is so much wrong with this comment. Keep talking this kind of trash and you will never proceed to the next step. Your battle will never be won if you fight among yourselves.

      You are up against the YUCK factor big time, as I have said before. Three years on this bill should tell you something.

      Maybe it is time to reorganize and you might consider finding a few other words to use as well.

      I have been out for over three decades and this comment even disturbs me.

      “genderqueer identified people as classes of people.” – WHAT is this?

    • Dana

      March 18, 2011 at 1:29 pm

      Actually there is no need to clarify anything accept that you are a spiteful, mean and nasty person. You said that personal attack article on Ashley love wasn’t actually an attack on her but you removed all doubt about that today. You use the same techniques that the right wing extremists do. On PHB you have a section of people who you don’t agree with and you group trans activists along with official hate groups.

      Get over yourself Autumn!

    • Dana LaRocca

      March 18, 2011 at 7:27 pm

      Just for the record Autumn that other Dana isn’t me. I always sign my posts.

    • Alexander

      March 19, 2011 at 10:40 am

      Really? This was the most important point of the article for you? I have my own issues with Love’s general approach, but her involvement in this article was appropriate and spot-on.

    • Richard

      March 19, 2011 at 1:39 pm

      Autumn, you are very wrong for this. The fact that you didn’t comment on the actual issues, and resorted to a mean girls attack, is very telling. What is your obessession with Ashley Love? Are you upset she was in this article and not you? You are 60 years old but act like a teenager. I always tried to give you the benefit of the doubt, even though I do feel you are a tool for the gay elite, and you dont take a stand for transgender people when the gay groups push their needs aside, but your petty hatchet job has done it for me. Regardless of your personal issues with Love, she actually gets things done, a lot of stuff done. You just dont like how she calls out your Gay Inc bosses, and your token ways, time and time again. You have lost all credibility

  2. Jenna Fischetti

    March 18, 2011 at 10:15 am

    Thank you.

    We now have the principle agents for the drafting of this bill, Maryland Delegate Pena-Melnyk,(D-21) and the General Counsel of Maryland’s Civil Rights Commission, the Maryland Commission on Human Relations, Glendora Hughes both admitting the bill’s flaws.

    None of these people are transgender or transsexual and the transgender community in Maryland was not consulted throughout this drafting process.

    “The bottom line is discrimination is not right,” states Del. Pena-Melnyk.

    In testimony before the Health and Government Operations Committee’s hearing on HB 235, the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Bill without basic rights, Glendora Hughes, the State’s top Civil Rights lawyer agrees ” “Yes, Baltimore City and Montgomery County covers gender identity. So now we have an inequity in the State of Maryland. Based on your geography, where you live will determine whether you have protection against being discriminated against.”

    HB235 does nothing to address either of the chief designers of this bill wish for, the implementation of full protections for Marylanders who are being bing discriminated against and worse, dying.

    Once a year, the transgender community holds a Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20. The event is a solemn gathering to reflect on those in our community lost to discrimination based on how they were born. This year we have regrettably already added one name from Baltimore, Tyra Trent to that list. Our objective is to see the day when names are no longer added to the list. Proponents of an “incremental” concept like Equality Maryland, are comfortable with the list growing by not supporting anti-discrimination protections in the most basic area needed, public accommodations.

    After three weekly transgender legislative workgroup meetings designed to bolster support for the flawed Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Bill (HB235) Equality Maryland has decided to walk away from dialogue with the transgender community and has canceled all further meetings until after the legislative session is over. Executive Director Morgan Meneses-Sheets explains this as a “scheduling conflict.” Truth and justice apparently conflicted with her organizations agenda.

  3. Christina

    March 18, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Finally, a gay news source actually tells the other side of this controversy. I agree with Trans Maryland, the watered down bill is a diservice to equality, and a slap in the face to trans people. Great article

    @Autumn Sandeen, everyone knows you are a puppet for the gays to get away with them kicking trans issues to the curb in favor of gay only issues, but you just made it look so obvious by attacking Ashley Love. Why didnt you comment on the issues, HB235, Trans Marylands rally or public accomodations? Because according to your blog you are a Uncle Tom and support the half bill. So you sensationalize this thread to take attention away from the real and good work Ashley Love and Trans Maryland are doing. You have no morals. Do us a all a favor and stop selling out our community. Also, just because Ashley Love is intersex, does not mean she can’t be an advocate for all LGBTIQ people. The journalist did not say “she is a transgender PERSON”, he said she as a “transgender and intersex ADVOCATE”, so stop acting like a jealous lunatic, and get a life. I also dont agree with your critique of Love “misgendering” anyone, she just isn’t a politically correct shill, and speaks the truth. If anyone misgenders the community, its you, afteralll, you did confess to being a transvestite in the Washington Post, which is a man with a sexual fetish

  4. Monica Roberts

    March 18, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    All we have heard since President Obama took office in 2009 is the GL community loudly characterize as ‘crumbs’ anything they deemed as short of full civil rights for GLB people.

    Well EQ MD and GL community, we trans people don’t like or want civil rights ‘crumbs’ either. A so called trans civil rights bill such as HB 235 without public accommodations language is a waste of tim and is a sterling example of what trans people would consider a civil rights ‘crumb’ .

  5. Polar

    March 19, 2011 at 4:59 am

    I strongly agree that HB235 is woefully incomplete and should not be passed until the language includes and covers public accommodations. However, I must ask why TM rallied in front of the US Supreme Court, which has no say over the language or passage of this bill in the MD legislature? Why weren’t they rallying in Annapolis, in front of the Maryland state house, or perhaps governor’s offices? If I was trying to pass, amend, or kill a state law in Kentucky, I’d be rallying in Frankfort, not Washington. Isn’t a rally supposed to be a show of strength that proves to legislators that the ralliers have a valid point to make or valid grievance to correct, and does so right where the legislators cannot help notice?

  6. Richard

    March 19, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    The bill should die in committee and only a bill with full intergrity should move forward. Equality maryland has been throwing transgender in the trash for 15 years now. Im thrilled Trans Maryland is mobilizing and represnteting themselves

    Polar, I think the reason they had the rally at The Supreme Court , from what I read, was because the lack of public accomodations protections is unconstitutional, and if HB 235 is passed with out PA protections, other states could follow the trend. Plus, it sure did get Maryland’s lawmakers attentions (they commented above), and national attention, which will provide the agitation, pressure and public attention needed to inspire awareness and change.

  7. Dana Taylor

    March 19, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    If you discriminate against the transgender/transsexual community then you are, at least in part, responsible for some of the deaths in this vulnerable community. Partial discrimination is still discrimination.

  8. Nicole

    March 20, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    We may not always agree with Ashley Love, but lets not forget to focus on the issue here. This bill is a BAD idea! It is dehumanizing for the trans community, and has already led to the death of trans people being denied medical care. I mean really people! Your rationalizations are disgusting and these actions are no different from the religious zealot that commits suicide in a demonstration of his/her faith. “911” ring any bells. Look in the mirror THAT is who you are!

  9. Christina

    March 21, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    I support Ashley Love 100%. She refuses to compromise. “Incrementalists” and sell outs, and the gay mafia, hate her for it. Trying to smear her is just a way to discredit the transsexual uprising. And doing it in this comment section is classless.

    The bottom line is HB 235 is worthless without public accomodations protections, and the Maryland transgender community deserves a seat at the table. Trans
    Marylands rally has put more resistance into the aire, and lawmakers now know transgender people will not accept segregation

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Heather Mizeur congressional campaign raises more than $1M

Former Md. delegate challenging Andy Harris

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Heather Mizeur, Delman Coates, Montgomery County, Silver Spring, Maryland, Maryland House of Delegates, Democratic Party, gay news, Washington Blade, momentum
Former Maryland state Del. Heather Mizeur is running for Congress (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Heather Mizeur has raised more than $1 million in her campaign against anti-LGBTQ Republican Congressman Andy Harris in Maryland’s 1st Congressional District.

“No candidate in #MD01 of either party, incumbent or challenger, has ever hit the $1M milestone this early in the election cycle,” Mizeur tweeted on Oct. 6.

The Victory Fund in an Oct. 8 press release said 80 percent of this $1 million came from Maryland-based donors, “a sign the district is ready for new representation.” And Mizeur continues to outpace Harris, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission that say she raised $717,445 for the cycle ending June 30, while Harris raised $425,288.

“Andy Harris has taken every opportunity to attack and vilify trans individuals, trying to score political points with his base at the expense of the safety of some of his constituents,” Mizeur told the Washington Blade.

In 2014 Harris made the Human Rights Campaign’s “Hall of Shame” for proactively working “to undermine existing legal protections and promote anti-LGBT discrimination.”

“In contrast, the LGBTQ community knows me for my record,” Mizeur said. “And knows I’ll always lead with compassion and stand up for civil and human rights. I think the 1st District will respond to my message of respect and understanding.”

Mizeur, who now lives on the Eastern Shore with her wife, served on the Takoma Park City Council. Mizeur was a member of the Maryland House of Delegates for eight years.

In 2014, she launched a long-shot, grassroots campaign for governor where she finished a strong third in the Democratic primary, despite being outraised by better-known opponents.

But Mizeur also said she is aware of the challenges her team faces in taking on a well-entrenched Republican in a solidly conservative district.

The Cook Partisan Voter Index in 2017 rated the district as R +14, meaning the previous two presidential election results in the district skewed 14 percentage points more Republican than the national average.

“We have over $760,000 in the bank, and we’ve outraised him during our time in the race,” Mizeur said. “We’re raising the money we need to go toe-to-toe with Andy Harris next year.”

The Baltimore Sun in February reported Harris was “flush with campaign cash” mostly due to a 2010 redistricting that “packed” the area with Republican voters to increase Democrats’ chances in other district races.

“Yes, Andy Harris has over $1 million in the bank, stockpiled over a decade in office,” Mizeur said. “But in the short time I’ve been in the race, we’ve cut significantly into his cash on hand advantage.”

Harris has represented the 1st Congressional District—which includes Maryland’s Eastern Shore and parts of Baltimore, Carroll and Harford Counties—since 2011 and easily fended off most challenges with at least 60 percent of the vote. These challengers include Mia Mason, a transgender military veteran, who ran against him in 2020.

The 2010 redistricting made Harris’ seat safe enough not only to donate nearly a third of his war chest to conservative groups and candidates, such as U.S. Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), but to openly court controversy himself.

Harris last year openly defended then-President Trump’s discredited efforts to overturn the 2020 election. And in December he signed onto an amicus brief supporting a failed lawsuit contesting the presidential election results.

This year he downplayed the violence of the Jan. 6 insurrection in which numerous police officers were attacked, members of Congress were threatened, and the U.S. Capitol was vandalized.

Mizeur told the Blade that while Harris’ actions regarding the Jan. 6 insurrection were the catalyst for her challenging his seat, she feels the district is changing and he no longer represents their interests.

“Our supporters know he’s been embarrassing Maryland in Congress for far too long, and that some of his actions have shown he’s completely unfit to serve in public office, regardless of ideological views,” Mizeur said. “They want someone who will bring compassionate leadership and innovative thinking back to the first district. And that’s appealing to people across party lines.”

Maryland’s primary election is June 28, 2022, and its general election follows on Nov. 8.

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AU student expelled over arrest in attack on gay Asian man, parents

Patrick Trebat no longer affiliated with university

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

An American University graduate student who was arrested by D.C. police on Aug. 7 on charges that he assaulted a gay Asian man and the man’s parents while shouting homophobic and anti-Asian slurs “is no longer affiliated with the university and will not be allowed on campus,” according to a report by WTOP News.

In an Oct. 9 broadcast that it updated this week, WTOP said Patrick Trebat, 38, who had been taking a night class at the university’s Kogod School of Business, was banned from returning to the campus.

Charging documents filed in D.C. Superior Court show that Trebat was charged by D.C. police with one count of felony assault, two counts of simple assault and one count of destruction of property for allegedly assaulting and injuring Sean Lai, 30, an out gay man of Chinese ancestry, and his parents on the 3700 block of Fulton Street, N.W., on Aug. 7.

The charging documents say Trebat allegedly began to follow Lai and his parents as they were walking along the street in the city’s Observatory Circle neighborhood near the National Cathedral. According to a statement by a police official from the police district whose officers made the arrest, Trebat punched and kicked the three victims as he stated, “Get out of my country.” The police statement says the family was taken to a hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

A separate police report says Trebat shouted the word “faggots” at the family and shouted, “You are not Americans!”

Based on these allegations, prosecutors classified the assault charges as an anti-Asian bias related crime, but they did not add an anti-gay classification to the charges.

Court records show that Trebat was released two days after his arrest while awaiting trial under the court’s High Intensity Supervision Program, which, among other things, imposed a curfew requiring him to return home by 10 p.m.

An Oct. 8 story in The Eagle, the American University student newspaper, says it learned that Trebat’s attorney filed a motion in court, which the Washington Blade also discovered from court records, asking a judge to extend the curfew deadline from 10 p.m. to 11:45 p.m. so that Trebat could attend at night class at American University.

The motion, which prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office did not oppose and the judge approved, identified Trebat in the public court records as an AU graduate student.

According to the Eagle, representatives of the university’s Asian American and LGBTQ student groups criticized university officials for not alerting students that an AU student charged with an anti-Asian hate crime while hurling homophobic slurs had access to the campus and could pose a danger to students.

“Patrick Trebant is not affiliated with American University and is not allowed on campus,” AU told the Blade on Wednesday in a statement. “While we cannot discuss details of an individual matter, when a student has been arrested, charged, convicted of, or sentenced for a felony crime, the university’s student conduct code provides for an administrative adjudication process. The safety of our students and our community is our priority.”

The Eagle reports that the code of conduct states that the dean of students or their designee can administratively adjudicate a case when a student has been accused of a non-academic offense “where the student has been arrested, charged, convicted of, or sentenced for a felony crime” for certain misconduct. The code of conduct applies in a situation in which a student is arrested for an off-campus allegation.

Court records show Trebat is scheduled to return to court at 9:30 a.m. on Nov. 15 for a felony status hearing before Superior Court Judge Judith Pipe.

Neither Trebat nor his attorney, Brandi Harden, could immediately be reached for comment.

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Two remaining defendants in D.C. trans murder case accept plea bargain

Dee Dee Dodds murdered in Northeast Washington in 2016

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Deeniquia Dodds, gay news, Washington Blade
Deeniquia ‘Dee Dee’ Dodds was killed in 2016. (Photo via Facebook)

Two of the four D.C. men who were charged with first-degree murder while armed for the July 4, 2016, shooting death of transgender woman Deeniquia “Dee Dee” Dodds on a Northeast Washington street pleaded guilty on Sept. 30 to a charge of voluntary manslaughter as part of a plea bargain deal offered by prosecutors.

A four-page letter providing details of the plea bargain offer made by prosecutors with the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, which was filed in D.C. Superior Court, states that the agreement accepted by defendants Jolonta Little, 30, and Monte T. Johnson, 25, includes the decision to drop the murder charge in exchange for a guilty plea to a single count of voluntary manslaughter.

It says that in exchange for the guilty plea prosecutors will also drop additional charges originally brought against Little and Johnson, including robbery while armed, possession of a firearm during a crime of violence, and unlawful possession of a firearm.

The agreement also includes a promise by prosecutors to ask Superior Court Judge Milton C. Lee, who is presiding over the case, to issue a sentence of eight years in prison for both men.

The letter spelling out the details of the plea deal makes it clear that it will be up to Lee to decide whether to accept the eight-year jail term proposed by prosecutors, and there is no guarantee that Lee will not hand down a sentence with a longer prison term.

It states that under the D.C. criminal code, a conviction on a voluntary manslaughter charge carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison. Attorneys and observers of the D.C. courts have said judges usually agree to a recommended sentence by prosecutors in cases involving a plea bargain agreement.   

The letter describing the terms of the plea agreement in the Johnson and Little cases does not say whether prosecutors will ask Lee to deduct from the proposed eight-year jail sentence the time that the two men have already spent in jail since the time of their arrest. But in most criminal cases, judges agree to provide full credit for time served in jail prior to a conviction and sentencing.

Johnson has been held without bond for just over five years since his September 2016 arrest. Little has been held without bond for four years and eight months since his arrest in February 2017.

The plea bargain deal came two and a half years after a D.C. Superior Court jury became deadlocked and could not reach a verdict on the first-degree murder charges brought against Johnson and Little following a month-long trial, prompting Lee to declare a mistrial on March 6, 2019.

The two other men charged in Dodd’s murder, Shareem Hall, 27, and his brother, Cyheme Hall, 25, accepted a separate plea bargain deal offered by prosecutors shortly before the start of the 2019 trial in which they pled guilty to second-degree murder. Both testified at the trial as government witnesses.

In dramatic testimony, Cyheme Hall told the jury that it was Johnson who fatally shot Dodds in the neck at point black range after she grabbed the barrel of his handgun as Johnson and Hall attempted to rob her on Division Avenue, N.E., near where she lived. Hall testified that the plan among the four men to rob Dodds did not include the intent to kill her.

In his testimony, Hall said that in the early morning hours of July 4, 2016, he and the other three men made plans to commit armed robberies for cash in areas of D.C. where trans women, most of whom were sex workers, congregated. He testified that the four men got into a car driven by Little and searched the streets for victims that they didn’t expect to offer resistance.

D.C. police and the U.S. Attorney’s Office initially designated the murder charges against Johnson and Little as a hate crime based on findings by homicide detectives that the men were targeting trans women for armed robberies. However, during Johnson and Little’s trial, Lee dismissed the hate crime designation on grounds that there was insufficient evidence by prosecutors to support a hate crime designation.

At the request of prosecutors, Lee scheduled a second trial for Johnson and Little following the deadlocked jury in the first trial. But court records show that for reasons not disclosed in the public court docket, the start of the second trial was postponed several times. The most recent postponement was due to restrictions placed on the court related to the COVID pandemic.

As of August, of this year, the court records show, the second murder trial for Johnson and Little was scheduled to begin on Feb. 17, 2022. But the records show that as of Sept. 30 of this year the defense attorneys and prosecutors reached an agreement over the plea bargain deal offered by prosecutors. It was on that day, the court records show, that the two men officially agreed to plead guilty to the lower charge of voluntary manslaughter and waived their right to a trial. The following day, on Oct. 1, Lee accepted the guilty pleas and scheduled the sentencing for Dec. 10.

Meanwhile, Cyheme Hall and Shareem Hall have remained in the D.C. jail since the time of their respective arrests. Court records show they were scheduled to be sentenced by Lee on Dec. 20, 10 days after the sentencing for Johnson and Little.

It couldn’t immediately be determined from the court records whether prosecutors allowed the Hall brothers to also plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter and have dropped the second- degree murder charge to which the two men pled guilty back in 2019 as part of an earlier plea bargain deal.

At the time Johnson and Little’s trial ended with the deadlocked jury in March 2019, LGBTQ activists expressed alarm that the jury’s action appeared to be a repeat occurrence of several previous D.C. cases in which male attackers charged with assaulting and murdering trans women of color were not convicted for those crimes.

“This is a very dangerous move on the part of the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” said Ruby Corado, founder and former executive director of Casa Ruby, the D.C. LGBTQ community services center, in referring to the plea deal.

“We need to be strengthening laws to ensure that the horrible epidemic of violence against LGBTQ people that we currently face ends, and not giving criminals a slap on the hand for committing murders against us,” Corado told the Washington Blade. “This sends a message that our lives don’t matter that much to those who already see us as easy targets; we are now becoming disposable people in the eyes of the law.”

D.C. trans rights advocate Alexis Blackmon, Casa Ruby’s interim executive director, called the plea bargain deal offered to Little and Johnson “very disturbing.” Added Blackmon, “How it’s being read across to me is if we can’t convict you on murder then we’re going to basically slap your wrist.”

Blackmon said she will consult with other local LGBTQ activists to determine whether a representative of the LGBTQ community should request to testify at Little and Johnson’s Dec. 10 sentencing hearing to ask the judge to hand down a sentence greater than eight years.

D.C. Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner and trans advocate Monika Nemeth said she too is troubled over the plea bargain agreement.

“While I am stunned by a plea that reduces the charge from first-degree murder to voluntary manslaughter, I should not be as we are still a society for whom trans people, particularly trans women of color, are not valued and are disposable,” Nemeth said. “I don’t see how you get to voluntary manslaughter when the victims were targeted for being trans. This is not justice.”

William Miller, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said he would make inquires with the office’s prosecutors to obtain a response to a question from the Blade asking for an explanation of why the decision was made to issue the plea bargain offer rather than bring defendants Little and Johnson to trial on the murder charge.

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