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Double Jeopardy Prevents Accused Killer of Trans Woman from Facing Trial

by Kilian Melloy
Tuesday Mar 13, 2018

A 20-year-old who had admitted pushing a trans woman into a river where she drowned will not face a trial over her death, thanks to the fact that prosecutors trying to tie the tragedy to another offense and get his probation revoked saw their gambit backfire, reported MySanAntonio.

Mark Daniel Lewis, 20, had failed to register as a sex offender and, as a result of that, was on probation. Prosecutors pointed to manslaughter charges in the death of 27-year-old Kenne McFadden, a transwoman, whose body was found in the San Antonio River in April of last year.

Evidence, including the testimony of a police officer, linked McFadden and Lewis and placed them together near the river a couple of days before her body was found in the water. Lewis himself offered an account in which McFadden and he kissed, but, he said, McFadden grabbed him in a way he disliked and he pushed her away. As a result, McFadden fell into the river. Lewis said he had not intended that to happen.

"I hate physical contact. I hate when people lay their hands on me," he told investigators. Lewis also said he was the survivor of sexual abuse.

Charges of manslaughter were filed against Lewis the following November, and it was those charges that prosecutors seeking the revocation of Lewis' probation cited as the reason for the revocation. But when District Court Judge Joey Contreras ruled that the manslaughter charges didn't hold up, both the probation case and the manslaughter case were dismissed at the same time, meaning that due to Constitutional protections against double jeopardy - which means that a person cannot be re-tried once found innocent of a crime - there would be no trial in McFadden's death.

Protests sparked by the outcome were scheduled for today, and Facebook organizers vowed to "make our voices heard!" That won't change the legalities, however.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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