There are new and very disturbing developments in the trial of Dwight DeLee, the Syracuse, New York man accused of gunning down LaTeisha Green, a young black transgender woman, last fall. Despite being shot by a .22-caliber rifle at point-blank range and several eyewitnesses, two of the prosecution witnesses recanted their statements on the witness stand and authorities say DeLee's family is threatening witnesses.
Newsday reports: "Siblings Johnny and Jasmine Gaston testified that investigators told them what to say about the shooting of 22-year-old Lateisha Green at a Syracuse house party last November. Both gave signed statements to police identifying Dwight DeLee as the gunman. But on Tuesday, they insisted DeLee was involved and said someone else killed Green. 'They were telling me the story of what happened,' said Johnny Gaston, who claimed he was coerced during eight hours of questioning."
Judge William Walsh allowed prosecutors to introduce statements in which Gaston "said she saw DeLee fire the shot into the car, that DeLee later called her from work to say he felt bad about what happened and that he said he hoped nobody was hurt." Walsh adds authorities are investigating threats made against these witnesses who "named names" including "at least one member of DeLee's family", reports the AP.
Other witnesses testify they heard DeLee refer to Green as a "faggot" moments before Green was shot. Other witnesses say they heard or saw the shot. Green's brother, 18-year-old Mark Cannon, who is gay and was also shot, testified and said DeLee was the fatal shooter.
DeLee is charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime and accused of intentionally killing LaTeisha Green because of her perceived sexual orientation. Green was born Moses Cannon and at age 16 decided to start dressing and living as a woman. The family accepted LaTeisha's transition and now urges state officials to pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, which includes transgenders in hate crime protection laws. The trial comes on the same week the United States Senate is expected to pass hate crimes legislation.
Some Background ...
Suspect Arraigned on Syracuse Transgender Murder [R20]
Hate Crimes Charges in Syracuse Trans Murder [R20]
Will Hate Crimes Charges Be Filed in Trans Murder? [R20]
No Bail for Syracuse Suspect, Victim ID'd as Trans [R20]
Black Syracuse Man Killed Simply for "Being Gay" [R20]
Family Defends Accused Killer of Trans Woman [R20]