Joshua Vallum Sentenced For Murder Of Transgender Woman

Joshua Vallum Sentenced For Murder Of Transgender Woman

MISSISSIPPI (EON) – A man from Mississippi has been convicted by a federal judge of hate crime related to the murder of a transgender person. The unprecedented conviction of Joshua Vallum to 49 years in prison was determined by Judge Louis Guirola, who rejected the argument that the crime was a reflection of complications of a supposedly neglected childhood of Vallum.

The man acknowledged blame for the death of 17-year-old Mercedes Williamson in 2015. The case was largely accompanied by American LGBT advocacy groups.

“Today’s sentencing reflects the importance of holding individuals accountable when they commit violent acts against transgender individuals,” Sessions said in a statement. “The Justice Department will continue its efforts to vindicate the rights of those individuals who are affected by bias motivated crimes.”

Vallum had dated 17-year-old Mercedes Williamson before he shot her with a stun gun, stabbed her repeatedly and beat her to death with a hammer in 2015


According to prosecutors, Vallum killed Williamson to prevent his friends from finding out they were having sex. The group of which he is a part, Latin Kings, declares homosexual death penalty.

Vallum lured Williamson into a car in Alabama and drove her 50 miles to his family home near Lucedale, Miss., prosecutors said. They added he shocked her with a stun gun and stabbed her with a pocketknife. When Williamson tried to run, they said, Vallum chased her and bashed her head with a hammer.

Joshua Vallum Sentenced
Joshua Vallum Sentenced

Public defenders submitted a sealed brief Monday to Guirola outlining Vallum’s troubles.

“Mr. Vallum lived through a childhood that was characterized by abandonment and neglect,” said public defender Ellen Allred. “It’s difficult to image how a mother could lock a 2- or 3-year-old child in a room for house on end while adults did drugs.”

Allred said Vallum first tried to kill himself when he was 7 or 8.

“We can’t go back and change Mr. Vallum’s childhood, just like Mr. Vallum can’t go back and undo what he did to Mercedes,” Allred said.

Vallum initially told sheriff’s deputies and later told The Sun Herald newspaper that he found out that Williamson had a penis on May 30, 2015 — moments before he killed her. He said he “blacked out” and doesn’t remember the crime, a variation of what’s known as a “gay panic” or “trans panic” defense.

He declined to speak with The Associated Press in a March letter, citing advice from his lawyers, and didn’t address the issue Monday. However, Vallum has never contested testimony and evidence that he long knew Williamson was transgender.

A witness in state court had testified previously that Vallum and Williamson had sex multiple times while the witness was a roommate with Williamson. Williamson had transitioned from male to female before dropping out of high school in Alabama, leaving her parents’ home and drifting from place to place.

Joshua Vallum Sentenced  Vallum later said he was motivated by the fear that his fellow gang members would find out about his sexual relationship with a transgender woman (pictured, Williamson)
Joshua Vallum Sentenced
Vallum later said he was motivated by the fear that his fellow gang members would find out about his sexual relationship with a transgender woman (pictured, Williamson)

The case has been closely watched by LGBT groups nationwide, who cite studies showing transgender people are particularly likely to be victims of violent crimes. A 2009 federal hate crimes law included protections for gay and transgender people, but of the 47 people prosecuted during the period reviewed by The Associated Press, none were for offenses against transgender people.

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4 thoughts on “Joshua Vallum Sentenced For Murder Of Transgender Woman

  1. At least they are finally starting to recognize that transgender murders are hate crimes. Glad it isn’t a legal defense anymore saying, “I was startled and couldn’t help myself.”

  2. I just don’t understand why regardless of the situation these people feel like a break up isn’t the way to go. So you are embarrassed or whatever bye move along with your life so the other person can too!

  3. Murder is an act of Hate . To upgrade it over an “identity” issue , is just plain stupid ! What happened to, All Lives Matter ? Remember Equality , stop making gays/lesbians & cops an exception .

  4. The boys who killed Brandon Teena in the early 90s got the death penalty for killing her, a transgendered individual. She was subject of the Academy Award winning film, “Boys don’t cry”
    So, even 20 years ago, juries were handing out harsh sentences for such.
    Does calling it a hate crime make it more heinous? Aren’t all murders technically hate crimes???

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