The Washington Post

At vigil, transgender homicide victim’s family urges hate-crime prosecution

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.

Alvin Bethea (right) reads a speech in Northeast Washington Saturday February 2, 2013 for his transgender son JaParker Jones, who was fatally stabbed at a bus stop nearby one year ago. Jones' mother Judean Jones (left) and sister Jaquander Jones, 22, stand nearby in mourning. (Clarence Williams/The Washington Post)

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

In a statement, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District declined to discuss specifics 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-motivated attacks.

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.

Clarence Williams is the night police reporter for The Washington Post and has spent the better part of 13 years standing next to crime scene tape, riding in police cars or waking officials in the middle of night to gather information about breaking news in and around Washington.

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