By Liz Seaton, Esq.
NCLR State Policy Director
My in-laws have arrived and are downstairs helping my daughter cook a dish to take to the family dinner tomorrow, so writing on this terribly sad topic feels more than strange when juxtaposed with that happy fact.
But something important happened in two courts yesterday in cases involving bias-related violence that has, in this Thanksgiving week, received little attention. I had to write.
In Hennepin County, MN, a judge convicted Andrew Waukazo of second-degree murder for strangling and stabbing Krissy Bates, a young transgender woman, and received news that the sentence would be for 25 years in prison. The actual sentencing takes place in a few weeks.
In a Ventura County, CA courtroom, 17-year-old Brandon McInerney pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, and the use of a firearm for shooting Lawrence “Larry” King, a 15-year-old gay classmate. Brandon will go to prison for 21 years.
I have been talking with Rebecca Waggoner, Anti-Violence Program Director of Outfront Minnesota who attended the Waukazo trial, and we both feel strongly about one particular thing.
We want Krissy and Larry—two precious, creative, and brave people whose lives ended tragically—to be remembered not just by their families and friends, but by others as well. And in that spirit, thankful to be here with my family, I offer this:
About Krissy, from Outfront Minnesota’s press release:
“We knew that [Krissy] was a funny, warm, loving woman with a great spirit and a boundless capacity for love. And we knew that despite everything, she repeatedly said: “I was put on this earth for a reason.”
And about Larry, from a New York Times article in 2008:
“They teased him because he was different,” said Marissa Moreno, 13, also in the eighth grade. “But he wasn’t afraid to show himself. He had a character that was bubbly. We would just laugh together. He would smile, then I would smile and then we couldn’t stop.”
Read more about the cases: