The New York Court of Appeals will consider an appeal in the case that set convicted killer Dwight Delee free in July 2013, reports Syracuse's CBS 5 and ABC 9. DeLee had been sentenced to 25 years in prison for the hate crime killing of Lateisha Green. The 22-year-old transgender woman was gunned down at point-blank range in November 2008 in Syracuse.
The Appellate Division of state Supreme Court dismissed the charge, ruling the jury's verdict was flawed. Though DeLee was convicted of manslaughter as a hate crime, he was not found guilty of a simpler charge of manslaughter, which officials called a mistake. Justices said the jurors should have been sent back to deliberations after finding inconsistent verdicts.
"I was outraged that our daughter's killer was released from prison on a technicality," said Roxanne Green, Lateisha Green's mother, in a statement to CNYcentral. "Now I feel some relief that New York's highest court will review this case. I want justice for Teish."
Oral arguments will begin early next year.
DeLee was convicted in August 2009. At that time he became only the second person in the United States convicted of a hate crime that involved the death of a transgender victim. The first conviction was the Angie Zapata case in Colorado.
The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, Lambda Legal, Empire State Pride Agenda, Anti-Defamation League and New York City Anti-Violence Project filed a "friend of the court brief" with the New York Court of Appeals that urged the Court "to reverse the 4th Appellate Division's ruling and reinstate Dwight DeLee's conviction," TLDEF Executive Director Michael Silverman wrote in an op-ed last month at the Syracuse Post-Standard.
"The jury reached a proper verdict," said Silverman. "It saw first-degree manslaughter alone as a lesser offense and therefore chose 'not guilty' on that charge, but concluded that first-degree manslaughter as a hate crime was the correct verdict,"
Lateisha Green transitioned at the age of 16 and had been living as a young woman for six years. The victim shared this information with DeLee before he gunned her down in rage, according to police and witnesses. Green was "lured" to a house party where she was waiting outside in a car. DeLee walked up to the car, "pointed a loaded .22 caliber rifle at [her] and shot [her] once in the chest," according to police. Green's 18-year-old gay brother was also shot and injured.
Also worth noting: Prosecutors said DeLee's family threatened witnesses after two witnesses recanted previous testimony.
Lateisha Green's mother has become a powerful trans advocate and ally. Roxanne Green wrote an impassioned essay on the murder of her daughter and anti-transgender violence at Essence.com on the day that DeLee was sentenced. Green's family is lobbying state legislators to pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, which would includes transgender persons in hate crime protection laws.
Numerous studies have shown that Black and Latina trans women are at the greatest risk of violence and the murders of Black transgender women often remain unsolved. Black trans women face "extreme discrimination and poverty" and are more than likely to experience violence, physical or sexual abuse, police brutality, HIV/AIDS and bullying, according to a first of its kind survey conducted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Black Justice Coalition.
Some Background ...
Lateisha Green's Mother Talks to Essence
DeLee Sentenced to 25 Yrs in Syracuse Trans Murder
Dwight DeLee Convicted in Syracuse Trans Murder Trial
Witnesses Threatened in Syracuse Trans Murder Trial
Suspect Arraigned on Syracuse Transgender Murder
Hate Crimes Charges in Syracuse Trans Murder
Will Hate Crimes Charges Be Filed in Trans Murder?
No Bail for Syracuse Suspect, Victim ID'd as Trans
Black Syracuse Man Killed Simply for "Being Gay"
Family Defends Accused Killer of Trans Woman