Rashawn & Beyond: Anti-Violence News for Queer People of Color

The Rashawn Brazell Memorial Fund aims to establish a sustainable tribute to Rashawn that promotes critical thought about the impact of violence and intolerance, particularly upon queer communities of African descent.

Through this blog, we provide action alerts, event postings and breaking news as a means of informing these communities in ways that enable them to combat racism and homophobia.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Quick Murder Verdict in 2001 Edgar Garzon Slaying in Jackson Heights

Source: Gay City News

Almost exactly seven years after the Jackson Heights slaying of Edgar Garzon (shown here), John L. McGhee has been convicted of his murder.
A Queens jury quickly convicte d John L. McGhee of second-degree murder in the 2001 killing of Edgar Garzon, a 35-year-old gay man.

"It shows the tenacity of his mother," said Andres Duque, a friend of Garzon's. "She pushed, she knocked on every door, she went to every government representative she could... It does bring closure to a family that has been seeking closure for all this time."

The jury deliberated for, at most, one day after hearing closing statements the morning of September 10. They returned the verdict just after noon on September 11.

Once their deliberations began, jurors asked to have testimony from 21-year-old Christopher Ricalde, the sole eyewitness to the attack, and a detective in the case read back. They also looked at other evidence, but the speed with which they convicted McGhee, 40, suggests they had little debate about his guilt.

In a statement, Richard A. Brown, the Queens district attorney, said, "It was an ugly and brutal act of savagery that will now result in the defendant serving what will probably be the rest of his life behind bars."

McGhee attacked Garzon on 77th Street in Jackson Heights on August 15, 2001. Garzon remained in a coma until his death on September 4, 2001. McGhee, 40, left the US for England in December 2001.

Police knew that at least two men were present at the assault and they drove away in a red car. Ricalde, who was 14 at the time, came forward in early 2003 and identified McGhee as the assailant.

Police located McGhee in England in 2003. He was sent back to the US by British authorities in June of 2006 after he lied on a visa application there. New York City police met his flight from England and he was arrested hours later.

McGhee faces a minimum sentence o f 15-to-life, but could get as much as 25-to-life when sentenced on September 29. McGhee's 2007 trial in the case ended with the judge declaring a mistrial.

At the first trial, Charles D. Abercrombie, McGhee's attorney, mounted an effective cross-examination of Ricalde, whose testimony was often contradictory and confusing, and used that in a convincing summation. In the second trial, Karen L. Ross, the prosecutor in the case, limited Ricalde's time on the stand and gave Abercrombie fewer ways to attack his testimony.

"We are happy that the Queens district attorney successfully prosecuted this crime," said Sharon Stapel, executive director of the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project (AVP). "We hope that this sends a statement that bias crimes against the LGBT community won't be tolerated in New York City."


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