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Volume 33
Issue 35

 
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Man receives just four years for a Transgender murder
Man receives just four years for a Transgender murder
"For a crime so brutal, the court gave a cold-blooded murderer little more than a slap on the wrist. That's a slap in the face to everyone who cares about justice," said GenderPAC Executive Director Riki Wilchins

Joel Robles, a 29 year-old Transgender woman who was stabbed to death last year, will never report to her job as a dental assistant again, but her murderer, Estanislao Martinez, will be a free man in just four years. The California court that sentenced Martinez on August 24th could have sentenced him up to 12 years for Robles' brutal murder. The Gender Public Advocacy Coalition (GenderPAC) called the sentence an unacceptable punishment for the violent hate crime.

Robles was in a Fresno apartment in August 2004 when Martinez stabbed her more than 20 times after learning that she was biologically male. Martinez was later picked up by Fresno police who found him wandering naked along the freeway.

"No one deserves to die for being who they are. The courts, police, and the public at large must begin to take hate crimes more seriously," said Riki Wilchins, Executive Director of GenderPAC. "For a crime so brutal, the court gave a cold-blooded murderer little more than a slap on the wrist. That's a slap in the face to everyone who cares about justice."

While the overall number of violent crimes in the US decreased in 2004, Transgender-related bias crime rates remained consistent - accounting for 11 percent of all anti-LGBT violence, according to a report issued by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.

Throughout the trial, Martinez's attorneys argued that when their client discovered Robles was biologically male he was so overcome with anger that he resorted to murder. "Crime of passion" and "Gay panic" arguments have traditionally been at the core of defense cases in murder trials with Gay and Transgender victims.

Last week, defense lawyers in a re-trial of the Gwen Araujo case began summations and reiterated the "Gay panic" argument. Araujo, a California Transgender teen, was attacked and killed in 2002 by a group of four men after they learned she was born a male. If convicted, they could face sentences of up to 29 years to life in prison.

The original trial resulted in a hung jury when jurors were unable to agree on convicting the men of first degree murder, which indicates a premeditated and deliberate act, or second degree murder. GenderPAC will continue monitoring this case as both sides wrap up closing arguments and await a verdict.

GenderPAC is the national organization working to end discrimination and violence caused by gender stereotypes by changing public attitudes, educating public officials, and expanding human rights.t



A GenderPAC press release.

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