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Cleveland police official: Murders of transgender women were ‘crimes of hate’

Monday, December 16, 2013
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CLEVELAND — A Cleveland police official says police believe the recent slayings of two transgender women were motivated by hate.

Betty Skinner

Betty Skinner

Brittany Stergis

Brittany Stergis

Deputy chief Ed Tomba, speaking at a forum Sunday called by advocates of Cleveland’s LGBT community, said federal authorities would have to decide whether to try the cases under hate crime law, but police are calling them “crimes of hate,” reported the Northeast Ohio Media Group.

“These are crimes of hate,” said Tomba. “We acknowledge that, make no mistake about it, but as far as the law goes … we will take these two crimes to the federal government, we will ask them to review them and see if they fall under the hate crime statue.”

Police are unable to formally classify the slayings as hate crimes because Ohio law does not include sexual orientation or gender identity in its hate crimes laws.

The body of Betty Skinner, a 52-year-old disabled, transgender woman, was discovered Dec. 5 by her caregiver at an assisted living facility. Another transgender woman, Brittany Stergis, was found the next morning shot in the head.

Police have no suspects and don’t believe the same person is responsible for the two slayings earlier this month.

Skinner and Stergis are the second and third transgender women killed in northeastern Ohio this year.

Cemia “CeCe” Dove, 20, was killed in January and her body was discovered in April in a retention pond, tied to a concrete block. She had been stabbed 40 times.

Her killer, Andrey Bridges, was sentenced to life in prison in November.

That homicide also was not classified as a hate crime, even though testimony in Bridges’ trial suggested he murdered Dove after becoming enraged upon discovering her male genitalia.

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