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Latin Kings member sentenced for Hate Crimes killing of transgender girlfriend

May 17, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Latin Kings member sentenced for Hate Crimes killing of transgender girlfriend

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A Latin Kings gang member from Mississippi has been sentenced to 49 years behind bars for the killing of his transgender girlfriend after a friend discovered her gender identity.

Joshua Vallum pleaded guilty to the murder of Mercedes Williamson, 17, back in 2015, when he was soliciting sex from her before he shocked her with a taser, stabbed her, and beat her to death with a hammer.

Last year, he was given a life sentence, but pleaded guilty to the Hate Crimes Prevention Act in December and was sentenced to almost fifty years. the New York Daily News reported.

Mercedes Williamson was killed in 2015. (FACEBOOK)

The case is the first to be prosecuted under the law for the slaying of someone based on gender identity, a Department of Justice release stated on Monday.

Prosecutors allege that 29-year-old Vallum murdered Williamson, who he had been in a relationship with after a friend discovered that she was born a male. The Latin Kings have a reputation of punishing homosexuality with death.

The convicted murderer first told investigators that he killed the girl after he found out was transgender.

However, in his plea deal, he confessed that he was aware during their relationship.

Josh Vallum was sentenced to 49 years on federal hate crime charges Monday. (TIM ISBELL/AP)

Vallum purportedly told Williamson that they were going somewhere to have sex on the night of the slaying, and took her from Alabama to Mississippi, where he attempted to get rid of the weapons at his father’s property.

“Taking a human life because a person has a particular gender identity is heinous and cannot be tolerated in an enlightened society,” Judge Louis Guirola Jr. said.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who contested the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act as a senator in 2009, commended Vallum’s sentencing.

“Today’s sentencing reflects the importance of holding individuals accountable when they commit violent acts against transgender individuals,” he stated.

“The Justice Department will continue to vindicate the rights of those who are affected by bias motivated crimes.”

Vallum could have been given another life sentence for his crimes, though Guirola gave him 49 years due to his experience with abuse.

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