Man found guilty of murdering LGBT Atlanta activist
The Transgender Health & Education Alliance (THEA) hosted their annual Peach State Conference earlier this month at the Atlanta Marriott Northwest at Galleria.
Now in its second year, the conference was expected to draw roughly 200 transgender persons, health providers and allies for panels discussing everything from spirituality to workplace issues, all with a focus on promoting physical and mental health in the transgender community.
The conference marked one of the higher profile events for this group, which has a mission of improving the life experiences of transgender persons in the medical, edu- cation, community and church arenas. The group recently earned its 501(c)3 status and, working with a team of just 30 or so people, hosts a variety of events aimed at affirming transgender men and women.
“Our goals are to utilize all four of those different avenues to increase awareness of gender diversity,” THEA co-founder and director of health and family programs Lisa Raman told the Georgia Voice. “To provide education, access to health care and to improve quality of life for transgender people.”
They tackled that goal this year with a diverse schedule of panels and speakers. Discussions like “Safer Sex for Trans Bodies: A Community Resource,” and “Having Difficult Conversations,” covered some of the social challenges of living transgender, while panels on reinventing careers were meant to empower transmen and women to consider starting businesses or otherwise taking control of their work life. But the health panels were a major focus this year.
“Even though there’s information available on the Internet, not all of it is accurate, not all of it is reliable and not all of it provides enough detail and answers to the questions [transgender men and women] have,” Raman said. “They need to come for the information and the support but they also come for the sense of community.” The man accused of raping, stabbing and choking to death a beloved Atlanta LGBT activist was found guilty on all 12 counts by a Dekalb County jury on Oct. 31.
Project Q Atlanta reports Donte Lamar Wyatt was found guilty of malice murder, felony murder, rape, aggravated sodomy, three counts of aggravated assault, home invasion, first degree burglary, false imprisonment, theft by taking and criminal trespass in the April 13, 2015 killing of Catherine Han Montoya.
Superior Court Judge Asha Jackson sentenced Wyatt to four life sentences plus 41 years in prison, according to the DeKalb District Attorney’s Office.
Wyatt’s crime spree spread across two counties as he stabbed his wife in the parking lot of a Stockbridge Waffle House before driving to Atlanta in a rented truck and breaking into Montoya’s home on Shadowridge Drive, where she lived with her wife Meredith. He was later captured after an hours-long standoff at another house.
Project Q reports that Wyatt is also charged with attacking his cellmate in the DeKalb County Jail after he was arrested. He allegedly strangled Jah’Corey Tyson on July 4, 2015 and removed his eyeballs. He pleaded not guilty to charges related to the jailhouse murder in September 2015.
Montoya was the director of field immigration and capacity-building initiatives at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the Leadership Conference Education Fund, and was also cochair of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum.