A gay Atlanta man was bludgeoned to death and his confessed killer walked free after arguing he was forced into a sexual act and responded in self-defense, says the San Francisco Chronicle. A Newark man contended in an Alameda County, Ca., courtroom that his killing of transgender teen Gwen Araujo was motivated by the discovery of her gender identity. A jury rejected that argument and convicted him of second-degree murder.
Today, prosecutors and law enforcement officials from across the nation gather in San Francisco to discuss strategies to counter the “gay panic” or “transgender panic” defenses used in courtrooms to gain acquittals or reduced punishments for violent crimes. “We need to be able to understand who the victims are and explain why who they are can never be argued as a justification for their demise,” said San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, who organized the conference. As many as 200 prosecutors and law enforcement officers are expected to attend the event, sponsored by gay, lesbian and transgender groups along with the state and national associations of district attorneys. There are no records kept on how often defendants have invoked such defenses. The San Francisco conference comes after a similar session in Atlanta last year in response to the killing there of a gay man who was a prosecutor.