LEXIE CANNES STATE OF TRANS — The transgender community found itself in an uproar following a seemingly light sentence meted out for the 2012 Texas murder of trans woman Janette Tovar. On September 15th, Jonathan Stuart Kenney plead guilty to a lesser charge — aggravated assault — in a plea bargain in exchange for a 10-year probation period and no jail time.
Tovar and Kenney were living together in 2012 when Tovar died at a hospital following a head injury caused by Kenney when the two became engaged in a fight. The murder charge was dropped to aggravated assault and prosecutors say not a hate crime, but rather, domestic violence. One apparent reason for the lessor sentence.
Trans woman Pamela Curry had an opportunity to talk with state district Judge Tracy Holmes, conveying the trans community’s concerns following the sentencing. Curry stated that Judge Holmes shared information that wasn’t commonly known — Tovar refused EMT transportation to a hospital following her injury, further, she had cocaine in her system — something that could cast reasonable doubt on the real cause of death with a jury. Kenney had a real chance of getting acquitted if the case went to trial.
While at first glance, a sentence of probation may seem extraordinary light, there are tough realities and hurdles facing Kenney. First, he has admitted to assault, of which there is no appeal. Second, a 10-year probation is no walk in the park for a known drug user and a person with propensity for violence. Drug and alcohol testing is reportedly part of his sentence. A trip-up or an arrest for violence could result in Judge Holmes turning the probation into a couple decades in prison.
T/H Pamela Curry
My original story on Janette Tovar’s murder: https://lexiecannes.com/2012/10/28/trans-women-murdered-in-puerto-rico-and-dallas-texas/
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