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Appeal pending in case of man freed after being convicted in Syracuse transgender woman’s death

New York state’s highest court will consider an appeal of the verdict that freed a man convicted of killing a Syracuse transgender woman.

In July 2009, Dwight DeLee was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter as a hate crime in the death of LaTeisha Green and sentenced to 25 years in prison, according to a Sunday news release from the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund. He was released after four years this August when the New York intermediate state appellate court overturned the conviction as an inconsistent verdict. The inconsistency lay in the fact that the jury originally acquitted DeLee of manslaughter in the first degree, but found him guilty of manslaughter in the first degree as a hate crime.

Gary Spencer, a public information officer from the Court of Appeals, said both sides have the chance to file briefs by April. The appeal will most likely be heard next fall, he added.

Michael Silverman, the executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, said he and the rest of the organization were happy the Court of Appeals will hear the case.

“We believe that it is important that the Court of Appeals overturn the lower court and insist that Dwight DeLee serves out his sentence for killing LaTeisha Green,” he said.

The fund and several other gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender and civil rights organizations filed an amicus brief with the Court of Appeals in October, asking for the reversal of the appellate division’s ruling and reinstatement of DeLee’s conviction, according to the release.

Silverman said the fund has the opportunity to file another brief and will likely do so.

“The lower court ruling subverts the intent of New York’s hate crime law, which is to deter crimes against members of the gay and transgender community,” he said. “The Court of Appeals holds out a glimmer of hope that some measure of justice can be served.”

 

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