At vigil for slay­ing vic­tim, a call for hate-crime charge

The Washington Post Sunday - - THE REGION - BY CLARENCE WIL­LIAMS williamsc@wash­

One year af­ter be­ing killed in North­east Washington, JaParker Jones is missed so much that the vic­tim’s younger sis­ters of­ten sleep in Jones’s bed to feel their sib­ling’s pres­ence.

Jones’s fam­ily said the pain of the loss is in­creased by the ab­sence of a hate-crime charge against the sus­pect. Jones, 23, was a trans­gen­der per­son.

“We’re seek­ing jus­tice. Presently, jus­tice is not forth­com­ing,” Alvin Bethea, Jones’s step­fa­ther, said at a vigil held Satur­day on the an­niver­sary of the killing.

Jones, 23, who iden­ti­fied as a fe­male and went by the names Deoni and Lo­gan, was stabbed in the 4900 block of East Capi­tol Street NE last Feb. 2. Gary N. Mont­gomery has been charged with mur­der in the death, but of­fi­cials have found no clear mo­tive for the at­tack.

In an in­ter­view, Bethea said the fam­ily be­lieves that Jones’s trans­gen­der iden­tity led to the stab­bing. The fam­ily plans to call on fed­eral of­fi­cials to take over the pros­e­cu­tion, he said.

“We do be­lieve the el­e­ments of a hate crime are present,” he said.

In a state­ment, a spokesman for the U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice in the District de­clined to dis­cuss specif- ics, cit­ing the on­go­ing pros­e­cu­tion. But spokesman Bill Miller said pros­e­cu­tors are “com­mit­ted to pur­su­ing hate/bias en­hance­ments when in­ves­ti­ga­tions war­rant.”

About 75 peo­ple, in­clud­ing Mayor Vin­cent C. Gray (D) and D.C. Coun­cil mem­bers Yvette M. Alexan­der (D-Ward 7) and David A. Cata­nia (I-At Large), stood in the cold Satur­day to mourn Jones and to speak against hate at­tacks.

Gray urged the fil­ing of im­pact state­ments with his of­fice to go to pros­e­cu­tors in such cases to help en­sure that “the pun­ish­ment fits the crime” when “a heinous act like this is com­mit­ted.”

Ac­tivists for the les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual and trans­gen­der com­mu­nity have of­ten crit­i­cized the District’s re­sponse to hate crimes.

Jones, who had worked at a sand­wich shop and a hair sa­lon, was re­mem­bered as smil­ing, lov­ing and giv­ing. Jones’s step­fa­ther said Jones had planned to pro­vide home care for the aged.

Jones’s mother, Judean Jones, and sis­ters Jaylin, 16, and Jaquan­der, 22, sobbed silently.

Alexan­der asked that Jones’s lov­ing spirit be used to com­bat hate. Cata­nia said the death was clearly a hate crime. “There is no other ex­pla­na­tion,” he said.

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