Mississippian to be sentenced in anti-transgender hate crime

Lauren Perry
May 16, 2017

Today, Joshua Brandon Vallum of MS became the first person to be sentenced on federal hate-crime charges for killing a transgender person.

It is for the first time a U.S. federal court will sentene a person for violent crime against a transgender.

Vallum had previously pleaded guilty in state court to murder charges in George County, Mississippi, and was sentenced to life in prison.

For the first time in the USA, a person will be sentenced on federal hate crimes charges for killing a transgender person.

Williamson's friend said she had talked openly about her fear of being killed if the Latin Kings found out about her relationship with Vallum. The gang prohibits homosexual activity and declared it punishable by death, prosecutors said.

Guirola could have sentenced Vallum to life in federal prison, but stuck to a lesser sentence suggested in a plea agreement between defense attorneys and prosecutors, citing Vallum's neglected childhood and other issues.

'Mr. Vallum lived through a childhood that was characterized by abandonment and neglect, ' said public defender Ellen Allred.

"The taking of a human life because a person has a particular gender identity is particularly heinous and can not be tolerated in an enlightened society", Guirola said in court in Gulfport.

However, state prosecutors argued Vallum pleaded guilty after he had found out an Federal Bureau of Investigation data dump on his cellphone resulted in the discovery of hundreds of images and video of "man on man" sex.

As BuzzFeed News reports, Vallum previously pleaded guilty to murder in MS state court in July 2016. 'If I could bring back Mercedes by giving up my life, I would gladly do so'.

The case has been closely watched by LGBT advocates nationwide, who applaud the first use of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr.

"Today's sentencing reflects the importance of holding individuals accountable when they commit violent acts against transgender individuals", Sessions said in a statement. "The Justice Department will continue its efforts to vindicate the rights of those individuals who are affected by bias motivated crimes".

"I think this is a day for the LGBT community, their family, and their allies to celebrate that finally, we're getting closer to real justice", said Boyette.

For two days, Vallum plotted out his plan to kill Williamson.

"These actions invite increased discrimination and continued animus against transgender people", Gordon said. Initially, Vallum claimed that he killed his ex-girlfriend in a panicked frenzy upon learning that she was transgender.

After luring his former lover to his father's home in MS, in the United States' Deep South, Vallum shocked Williamson with a stun gun before stabbing her repeatedly with a pocket knife.

He then proceeded to stab her in the body and head with a pocketknife, they added.

Vallum allegedly told Williamson that they were going somewhere to have sex the night of the murder, and took her across state lines from Alabama to Missisippi, where he tried to dispose of his weapons at his father's property.

At Monday's hearing, public defenders submitted a sealed brief to Guirola outlining Vallum's troubles.

Other reports by VgToday

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