A federal hate crimes lawyer will be aiding the investigation into the murder of an Iowa transgender teen at the request of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, according to a New York Times report.
According to officials, Sessions personally decided to send an experienced hate crimes lawyer to delve into the murder of 16-year old Kedarie Johnson, TheNYT reported Sunday. The hate crimes lawyer, Christopher Perras, will act as the county prosecutor for the case.
“This is just one example of the attorney general’s commitment to enforcing the laws enacted by Congress and to protecting the civil rights of all individuals,” said Devin O’Malley, a spokesman for the Department of Justice, told TheNYT.
Johnson, a transgender teen who often wore both masculine and feminine clothing, was found dead in an alley with numerous gunshot wounds on his body in 2016. Two men, Jaron Narelle Purham and Jorge Luis Sanders-Galvez, were charged with first-degree murder in January for Johnson’s death. Iowa authorities are uncertain as to whether the teen was murdered because of his gender identity or not.
Sessions previously said that his Justice Department would be fighting hate crimes because they are not only an attack on citizens of the country, but also an attack on the nation’s principles.
“We have and will continue to enforce hate crime laws aggressively and appropriately where transgendered individuals are victims. Last month, Joshua Brandon Vallum was sentenced to 49 years in prison for assaulting and murdering Mercedes Williamson. This is the first case prosecuted under the Hate Crimes Prevention Act involving the murder of a transgender person,” Sessions remarked in a June speech.
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