Monday, the trial will begin for a man accused of murder as a hate crime. LaTeisha Green was born a male named Moses Cannon, but she was transgender. When she was killed, police said the motive was sexual orientation. Dwight DeLee is the man accused of shooting Green on November 14, and prosecutors are hoping for a conviction under the state's hate crime law.
If you drive past Green's family's home, you'll see birthday balloons floating above a memorial in the yard. That's because last Saturday would have been her 23rd birthday. LaTeisha's mother Roxanne Green, is expected to speak on behalf of the family tomorrow before the jury selection gets underway. Helping the family prepare for what's sure to be a difficult and emotional experience is the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund. Michael Silverman, the Executive Director, tells Action News that from a legal perspective, this is an exciting time. It is the first hate crime murder trial in the history of Onondaga County, and it is the first murder trial for a hate crime involving a transgender person in all of New York state.
"People are watching this all over the world," Silverman said. "There are internet sites on Facebook, on Twitter, that have thousands and thousands and thousands of followers. This is really important to people and it's just tremendously important that people here, people in New York state, more widely, people across the country and around the world follow this and see that justice can be done."
"In fact, if the accused shooter is found guilty, this will only be the second time in the history of the United States that someone has been convicted of a hate crime in the murder of a transgender person, so it's really a big deal."
Dwight DeLee is charged with Second Degree Murder. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 25 years in prison. DeLee's lawyer, Clarence Johnson challenged the constitutionality of the hate crimes law in New York claiming it was vague as it applied to his client. Judge William Walsh denied that motion. Stay with Action News and CNYcentral.com for all the latest updates on the trial.