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Family to memorialize slain trans woman

Relatives upset that authorities haven’t classified case as hate crime

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Deoni Jones, gay news, Washington Blade

THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED HERE.

The stepfather and sister of a transgender woman stabbed to death at a Northeast D.C. bus stop last February are inviting members of the LGBT community to participate in a memorial remembrance for Deoni Jones on Saturday, Feb. 2, to commemorate the anniversary of her death.

Deoni Jones, gay news, gay politics dc

Over 200 people attended a candlelight vigil held for Jones. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Jones’ family members, who refer to her by her birth name JaParker, told more than 200 people who turned out for a vigil at the site of the murder days after the incident took place that they fully accepted her as a transgender woman and treated her as a cherished member of the family.

“We want to have this event to not only honor JaParker, but to also shine light on the fact that so often members of our society who are GLBT face violence in their daily lives simply because of who they are, and that as a civilized society we will not tolerate violence against the GLBT community,” said Alvin Bethea, Jones’ stepfather.

“At this memorial we will have prayer, songs, and statements from the community,” Bethea said in an email to the Blade.

He said Jones’ sister, JuDean Jones, and other family members and friends were helping to organize the memorial remembrance.

The event is scheduled to take place 4:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 2, at East Capitol Street and Sycamore Street, N.E., at the site of the Metro bus stop where police say Jones was stabbed while sitting on a bench waiting for a bus.

Through the help of witnesses and nearby residents, D.C. police charged 55-year-old Gary Niles Montgomery with second-degree murder while armed in connection with Jones’ death eight days after the murder took place. In November, a D.C. Superior Court grand jury indicted Montgomery on a charge of first-degree murder while armed.

He has been held in jail without bond since the time of his arrest in February 2012.

A police arrest affidavit says a video surveillance camera which recorded the murder shows a male assailant taking Jones’ purse immediately after stabbing her in the face. The affidavit says witnesses identified the person in the video as Montgomery.

Although the taking of the purse indicates the motive of the attack was robbery, police said they have not ruled out the possibility that Jones was targeted because of her status as a transgender person.

However, Bethea told the Blade that he and his family believe Jones’ murder was a hate crime and that police and prosecutors should have classified it as a hate crime, which would give a judge authority to hand down a more stringent or “enhanced” sentence if Montgomery is convicted.

“We believe that it is clear in the video footage of this murder that the elements of a hate crime are present and that hate crime enhancement papers should be served upon this individual,” Bethea said in a email.

He said the family has urged the U.S. Attorney’s office, which is prosecuting the case, to list the murder as a hate crime.

“[W]e are considering filing a complaint with the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division seeking redress of [this] error,” Bethea said in his email.

According to court records, on March 23, Montgomery was declared competent to stand trial following a court ordered mental evaluation. He pleaded not guilty on Nov. 9, two days after the grand jury indicted him on the first-degree murder while armed charge. During a court hearing on Nov. 30, Superior Court Judge Robert E. Morin scheduled a trial date for June 10.

Court records show that questions surrounding Montgomery’s metal health surfaced in January, prompting Morin to order “24 hour forensic screening” for Montgomery “based on the representations of defense counsel.”

Morin scheduled a mental observation hearing for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 29, to assess Montgomery’s condition.

Court records show Morin denied at least two requests by Montgomery’s attorneys that he be released from jail while awaiting trial. Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s office opposed the requests for Montgomery’s release.

D.C. Homicide Watch, a blog that reports on all murder cases in the city, reported that defense attorney Colle Latin argued in a motion that prosecutors failed to demonstrate that Montgomery would be a risk to the community or of fleeing the area if released. Latin also argued that the video, which is fuzzy in quality, doesn’t clearly identify Montgomery as the person who stabbed Jones.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

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Baltimore

Carlton R. Smith: LGBTQ advocate, ‘mayor’ of Mount Vernon, passes away

‘The Duchess’ died on May 29 in his sleep

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Carlton R. Smith, an LGBTQ advocate, died May 29. He was 61. (Photo courtesy of Carlton R. Smith)

BY JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV | Carlton R. Smith was affectionately called “The Duchess” in a nod to royalty, because of his unofficial role of mayor of Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood. He was a “walking billboard” for Calvin Klein, with a love for purple, Batman, cooking, house music, Prince, and Diana Ross.

“If you said Duchess, you knew who that was,” said his close friend of 25-years, Carrietta Hiers.

The rest of this article can be found on the Baltimore Banner’s website.

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Maryland

Moore pardons more than 175,000-plus cannabis-related convictions

Governor signed executive order at State House on Monday

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Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (Public domain photo/Twitter)

BY BRENDA WINTRODE and PAMELA WOOD | Gov. Wes Moore pardoned more than 175,000 cannabis-related convictions Monday, nullifying guilty verdicts decided when carrying small amounts of the drug or paraphernalia was illegal.

The Democratic governor signed an executive order during a State House ceremony, granting clemency to thousands of people convicted in Maryland. The convictions to be pardoned include more than 150,000 misdemeanors for simple possession and more than 18,000 for possession of drug paraphernalia with an intent to use.

The rest of this article can be read on the Baltimore Banner’s website.

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Local

Blade wins multiple journalism awards

Society of Professional Journalists recognizes writing, design work

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The D.C. chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists honored the work of the Washington Blade at its annual Dateline Awards dinner last week.

The Blade took top honors in the weekly newspaper editorial/opinion writing category for a piece by Michael Lavers, the Blade’s international news editor, titled, “Bearing witness to the unimaginable,” which recounted watching raw footage of Hamas’s attack against Israel on Oct. 7.

In it, Lavers wrote, “The Israeli government clearly wants the world to understand the barbarity of what happened on Oct. 7, and that is why it has shown footage of that horrific Saturday to journalists and lawmakers. The footage left me deeply shaken, and perhaps that was the point.”

Washington Blade graphic designer Meaghan Juba won the Dateline Award for front-page design in the weekly newspaper category.

And in the weekly newspaper-features category, the Blade’s Kathi Wolfe was recognized as a finalist for her piece titled, “Meet one of the most powerful disabled people on the planet.”

“These awards reflect our 55-year commitment to journalistic excellence,” said Blade Editor Kevin Naff. “Congratulations to our team for another year of award-winning journalism.”

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