The trial of a man accused of killing a
transgender woman last November in Syracuse, New York opened Monday,
Twenty-two-year-old Lateisha Green was
killed on November 14, a Friday, sitting in a car parked outside a
friend's house. She, her openly gay brother Mark Cannon, and a third
person were in the car while people in the home yelled gay slurs at
them, police say.
“Dwight DeLee goes into the residence
at 411 Seymour Street, returns with a 22 caliber rifle, puts the
rifle to the driver's side window of that vehicle and fires one
round,” said Syracuse Police Chief Gary Miguel. “And that one
round strikes Mark Cannon in the arm, and continues on and strikes
Moses Cannon [Lateisha Green] in the chest area.”
Mark Cannon, 18, managed to drive the
car to the family's home for help.
Cannon was also the first to testify
after lawyers delivered their opening arguments Monday afternoon,
telling jurors about the night Green was shot. He will return to the
stand to be cross-examined by DeLee's attorney Tuesday.
Prosecutors have charged DeLee with
second-degree murder as a hate crime and criminal possession of a
weapon. A hate crimes conviction would add 5 years to the minimum
sentence of 15 years to life in prison. It is Onondaga County's
first prosecution of a sexual orientation hate crime murder case.
New York state added sexual orientation
to the list of prosecutable hate crimes nine years ago but the
statute does not include gender identity or expression. Assembly
members passed a bill earlier in the year that would add transgender
protections, but senators have yet to act on it.
At a press event before the trial's
opening, Green's parents and brother called for justice and urged
legislators to pass transgender protections.
“By sharing Teish's story, we hope to
break a cycle,” said Rhonda Gary, an aunt who spoke on behalf of
“Teish's courage to live openly and
proudly gives us the strength to tell her story so that others will
never have to know the feeling of losing a family member or friend
because they are different,” Gary said.
Green transitioned at the age of 16,
and received a slash to the face from a high school peer for dressing
like a woman, but her extended family supported her decision, Gary
“But we couldn't shield her. She
regularly received death threats and was beaten up by her peers in
schools. We will never get to watch Teish achieve her goals, simply
because someone was blinded by their bias against Teish and who she
was,” Gary added.
DeLee was collared by police two days
after the shooting, on a Sunday. At the time, Police Chief Miguel
told reporters: “Our suspect took a rifle and shot and killed this
person, wounding also his brother, for the sole purpose that he
didn't care for the sexual preference of our victim,” then added,
“And isn't that sad?”