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Fla. teen gets 25 years in prison for attempted murder of transgender woman

Monday, December 9, 2013
Tavares Spencer

Tavares Spencer

TAMPA, Fla. – A Florida teenager in has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for the attempted murder of a transgender woman.

Tavares Spencer, 16, was tried as an adult on charges that included attempted first-degree felony murder, attempted second-degree murder and robbery; he was found guilty on October 30.

Tampa police said Spencer met up with Terrience McDonald in April and that he believed she was biologically female.

Police said Spencer was so irate when he learned McDonald was biologically male that he lured McDonald into a vacant house and shot her.

Soon after the April 9 shooting, Spencer bragged in text messages about the incident, using graphic and derogatory language to describe McDonald.

Sgt. Michael Stout of the Tampa police said at the time of the arrest that detectives were taken by Spencer’s lack of remorse in the incident.

Cora Keaton, Spencer’s grandmother who attended Friday’s sentencing, pleaded with the judge and said her grandson didn’t grow up with a father and lacked a male role model.

“My grandson has a very good heart. He’s funny. He’s kindhearted,” Keaton said.

But the judge ruled that Spencer had demonstrated a progressive pattern of criminal behavior before handing down the 25 year sentence.

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113 more reader comments:

  1. Holy crap! My state finally did something right!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:50pm
  2. Good riddance!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:50pm
  3. This kinda stuff just scares the hell outta me.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:51pm
  4. Good! He’s a piece of shit!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:51pm
  5. Let’s also think about how if a white man did it he’d be free

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:51pm
  6. Yay!!! He’s gonna feel like a freight train went through him! Don’t shower friend, don’t shower…

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:51pm
  7. Good!!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:51pm
  8. I am so happy that people are coming round to not letting this crap get buy easily.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:51pm
  9. And more like it!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:52pm
  10. Good!!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:53pm
  11. Seems like “Florida Teen” is giving “Florida Man” a run for his money in the, world’s biggest douche bag” category this year.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:53pm
  12. 35 yrs would be even better

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:53pm
  13. Can’t wait to hear Jessie & Al weigh in on this one

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:54pm
  14. Karma will stretch him outta shape in jail- (rape & then turn him into -(jail easy manmeat)They finall did something right *

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:54pm
  15. This is why I encourage firearms ownership and self defense training. If we cannot defend ourselves well few others things matter.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:55pm
  16. It’s sad to see he had such hate in his heart to try and end someone else’s life :-(

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:55pm
  17. They should kill him! Eye for an eye people and watch the crime rate drop!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:55pm
  18. his death would not lower the crime rate at all

    Replied on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:59pm
  19. He didn't kill anyone. He attempted to. That's why his sentence was only 25 years.

    Replied on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:10pm
  20. only 25yrs???!!! that piece of shit should die for doing what he did!!!!!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:55pm
  21. Good I hope his anus prolapses.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:56pm
  22. first off I am not by any means saying i agree with his actions at all. The trans woman should have been honest from the start though and considering he is only 16 years old and still legally a minor, how old is this trans woman?

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:56pm
  23. Dont excuse the crime.

    Replied on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:27pm
  24. I'm not excusing the crime Andrea. which is why the FIRST thing I said was I am not by any means saying I agree with what he is doing. it is a horrendous crime no matter which way you look at it but the trans woman also SHOULD have been HONEST and if she is over the age of 18 should also be facing some sort of penalty for soliciting a minor.

    Replied on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:29pm
  25. James, you haven't the faintest notion of why a trans woman, for her own safety, would not wish to disclose. Try to think past your own experience for a moment, please.

    Replied on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 12:50am
  26. it’s a start

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:58pm
  27. He ‘ll be turned out in prison. Open wide new fish.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:58pm
  28. Good.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:58pm
  29. Jessica Steele- 16 is a man- he knew the rules, has a working brain- knows the differance between GOOD & BAD -HE IS NOT IGNORANT -

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:58pm
  30. all i see is boo whoo so he didnt have a role model doesnt mean he couldnt tell right from wrong he knew what he was doing and now he has to do the time

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:58pm
  31. Good!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:59pm
  32. 25 years that it

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:59pm
  33. he will know how it feels to bea human hand puppet. *Make your daddy talk

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 10:59pm
  34. If that had been my fiance I’d have got sent to the same jail and taken his ass out. Educate those that live in ignorance for ignorance begets hate. Hope karma shows him no mercy

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:00pm
  35. good for him. but then prison may be too good.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:01pm
  36. Wow so because he didnt have a dad or male role model he should be excused for killing her? Give me a fucking break. Someone who kills someone isn’t in my book kind hearted. Hes right where he should be. What a pos. I hope he becomes big bubba bitch and gets what’s coming to him a big fat one. Just because she wasn’t born a woman doesn’t mean she wasn’t supposed to be one nor does it mean she should have been murdered. So grandma next time u see ur so called kind heart grandson ask urself this did u do a good job raising him. Cause obviously his behavior was taught to him. Hope he enjoys being a bitch.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:01pm
  37. Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:04pm
  38. He was wrong for what he did…he deserves to be in jail but on the other hand…people need to be honest about who they are…if u were born male ok say that same as if u were born female…u cant just lie to people and think they wont be mad…some people are ok with who u are and who u want to become and then some are not and if they arent ok but let them make that choice for themselves its unfair to make it for them.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:04pm
  39. That doent give anyone an excuse to murder.

    Replied on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:26pm
  40. I don't think anybody lied to him. He assumed she's a cisfemale.

    Replied on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 2:23am
  41. Gonna be a long stretch if he hates trannies…

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:05pm
  42. FYI the term "tranny" is like calling gay people "fags". Please try to refrain from using it, Sheryl Simpson.

    Replied on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:15pm
  43. I will be sure and tell my transexual friend Sal to stop using the term as well, Alejandro Asin. And I will also clue my gay guy friends to stop calling each other fags...

    Replied on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:26pm
  44. Sheryl please ignore the whiny pc police around this place. Too many people seem to think that everyone has to use kid gloves to avoid ever hurting anyones wittle fewlings.

    Replied on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:32pm
  45. Social media has created a culture in which you can make up whatever meaning you want from someone else's words with no regard whatsoever for context, humor or intent. It does get tiresome...

    Replied on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:36pm
  46. If I ever get beaten/stabbed/raped to death, in all likelihood one of the last, if not the very last word I hear before I die will be "tranny" (gee, wonder why I don't like the word?), even though as originally coined it had nothing to do with transsex people. It was a taking back of the pathologizing term "transvestite" by cross-dressers (i.e. cissex males).

    Replied on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:48pm
  47. Sheryl, the issue of misinterpreting text has been around since the dawn of written language, it's not a 'new' thing. Just because you got called out (EXTREMELY politely, may i add) doesn't mean you should shirk all responsibility for what you said on an open lgbtq forum where people are obviously going to have an opinion on a term so deeply rooted in historical violence and hatred as the one you choose to use. Be a gracious ally and accept that you just because you didn't intend to be offensive, doesn't mean you didn't seriously offend a shit ton of people.

    Replied on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 12:19am
  48. I wouldn't beat rape murder you any more than I would call you a tranny. But I would use the word in the context of dark humor evoked in response to a tragedy. I respect your sensitivity.

    Replied on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 12:21am
  49. Humor is relative, as is sensitivity.

    Replied on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 12:26am
  50. My friends who are African-Canadian say the N word all the time. Doesn't give me a rhetorical license to toss the term out because I heard someone else say it. Cue the tone policing about "PC peeps with no sense of humour." I was punched in the back of the head with a guy shouting "DIE TR*NNY" at a bus stop. Forgive me, Sheryl, if I'm not so insouciant as you about this word. I don't think social media's problem is "humour or intent". I think it's a culture of commentators who tread and stomp with graceless and tone deaf textual antics and aren't delighted when they get called out for it.

    Replied on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 12:42am
  51. i hope the people in this thread advocating prison rape are getting as much of your attention as you are giving me, an ally, albeit a dark and tasteless one. i ask no forgiveness nor do i offer any, as it is unrequired. we are all allowed our opinion. there is nothing to forgive. laugh more...pucker less

    Replied on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 1:32am
  52. He didn’t kill her. He attempted to. That’s why he was convicted of attempted murder.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:09pm
  53. His death alone would not lower the crime rate,you know what I am saying why try and be cute! I suppose I will help you out. If laws were harsher YES crime would slow down. If you kill,you should be killed. If someone stole,cut their hand off. If you rape someone you should be rapped! As a law abiding citizen I have NO problem with this! I don’t care if this boy had no mother or father. You can cry all you want that one is a product of their environment all day long…who cares! As a child grows up they learn right from wrong and make their choices. Someone is dead for being who they were,laws do need to be changed!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:10pm
  54. great!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:10pm
  55. So he didn’t kill her,MY BAD he attempted to…lmfao! Don’t you see that word he tried too take someone’s life! So cut the dumb fuck some slack because he only attempted to kill! Smh!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:11pm
  56. Good He Deserves It !!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:12pm
  57. yay

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:13pm
  58. I hope he never gets out.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:15pm
  59. Now he has 25 years to look forward to of getting his own gender bent. It may not be justice, but it is poetic.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:15pm
  60. Well we all lie about one thing or another in life but that doesn’t mean any of us deserve for someone to try and kill us because of it. I understand being dishonest isn’t the best thing but come on people. Children should not be taught hate or be sheltered from the Real world. Simple as that!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:16pm
  61. MF

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:17pm
  62. he should get life not just 25yr’s…

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:19pm
  63. May he rot in hell

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:20pm
  64. Don’t worry grams. I’m sure he’ll find a “role model” in prison.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:21pm
  65. Those prisoners must be salivating.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:24pm
  66. What goes around comes around. He’s going to make a nice boy toy.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:26pm
  67. he should have gotten death!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:28pm
  68. that’s what he deserved!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:29pm
  69. lmfao

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:29pm
  70. good he should get life

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:29pm
  71. He should be hung from a tree like a Christmas ornament.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:31pm
  72. haha u thug n****r

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:35pm
  73. Am I the ONLY person here that is disturbed by the calls for this guys rape? If the victim had shot him it would have been self defense and well deserved.Instead he got punished with jail. But raping this idiot is not just wrong but will likely lead him to becoming something much worse then he already is.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:36pm
  74. Florida is FUCKED. ATTEMOTED MURDER GETS 25yrs and actual murders don’t. When will we actually try children as children instead of always as adults. THIS COUNTRY SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF THEMSELVES. NO ONE DESERVES TO DIE HOWEVER A 16 ur old child does not deserve 25 yrs to life for killing a man who was so insecure in who he was that he could not tell someone before they found out in a sexually comprising position or atmosphere that they are not actually a biological woman. IF MIRE TRANSGENDERS SPENT TIME WITH PEOPLE THEY KNOW ACCEPT THEM INSTEAD OF TRYING TO COVER UP WHO THEY ARE TO PPL WHO MAY NOT UNDERSTAND I BELIEVE OTHERS SANE PPL WOULDNT GO ABOUT ATTEMPTING MURDER AND LESS TRANSGENDERS WOULD BE VICTIMIZED!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:37pm
  75. Arianan what would you do then? He really should be put to death!

    Replied on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 12:34am
  76. I would try a child as a child george Dillon and I think ppl who care so much to call others bitchs, instead if showing no class, should advocate that transgendered be proud of who they are and respect the fact that some ppl either don't like liars or don't want to date or be sexual with someone who used to be of the former sex or are still in transition. You wantING TO PUT A CHILD TO DEATH FOR ATTEMPTED MURDER MAKES YOU KNOW BETTER. Forgiveness and compassion is key.

    Replied on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 1:09am
  77. Why do transgendered get attacked.....the only time I ever read about it the paper says the killer or attempted killer was appalled to FIND OUT the person was not the sex they claimed!

    Replied on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 1:11am
  78. If 16 is a man then let them drink and smoke and marry and have children without disgrace… BULLSHIT!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:38pm
  79. Good!!!

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:45pm
  80. He was going to end up in jail one way or the other. He’s a psychopath. I wonder how long actual murderers get though. The fact that it was premeditated is compelling but I feel like he was overcharged.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:47pm
  81. Right. Let’s find excuses to let people attempt murder. No excuse for lack of self control.

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:48pm
  82. Still a hate crime

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:51pm
  83. so sad – to be so hateful and ignorant for a yougster

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:52pm
  84. Be didn’t have a male row model so that makes it okay to shoot someone????? Idiot!!! He belongs in jail for the rest of his life. .

    Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 11:58pm
  85. Only 25 yrs wtf he should have got life

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 12:12am
  86. Good for him. His family must be proud.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 12:13am
  87. he needs to die for what he did. i oon’t get why he tried to do that in the first place smh

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 12:14am
  88. John Waters would no doubt agree with me.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 12:29am
  89. It would be nice to see him become Bubba’s girlfriend.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 12:40am
  90. Sheryl, John Waters is gay, not transgender so that excuse is false. I am & you are offensive made even more so by your lame attempts to defend your offensiveness.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 12:48am
  91. James O’Neill I simply will never understand the frame of thought that indicates that if someone believes they have been “lied to” that it’s excusable by some measure to inflict harm on that person, least of all attempt to kill/or be sucessful at killing another human being. It’s another thread to the “gay panic” defense of the ’90s. Or is that also a viable reason in your opinion? To make this notion personal to me, I guess I need to be prepared to be physically assaulted by not disclosing something deeply personal on a first date, like the fact that I’m disabled. Afterall, should I decide to have sex with this person, they may feel deceived by the fact that my clothing hides my deformities, scars and leg braces. All of which may not conform to someones vision of what I ought to be and look like. Further, in reductio ad absurdum form, I guess someone may also feel deceived if I don’t immediately disclose that I dye my hair, also. How is it ever a reason or excuse to bring physical harm to another person for non self-defense reasons?

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 12:50am
  92. again! I NEVER said the crime is excusable!! I NEVER made an excuse as to why he did it all I said was that if someone is transgender they need to be HONEST about it. PERIOD. I have nothing against transgender people or gay people. I am in fact a gay man myself and at one time thought I was trans and lived the life of a woman for an entire year. I have many transgender friends and not a single one of the lies or misleads anyone they have dated past or present. Furthermore I am also a disabled person and I do tell people my disability which is epilepsy before things get serious. I feel it is my duty to tell them so they are informed of what they are getting themselves involved in. It is only fair. People need to stop being so deceitful and lying.

    Replied on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 1:04am
  93. I am in full support of him being sentenced to 25 years of prison time for the crime he committed but I also realize this crime was COMPLETELY avoidable had the trans woman been honest with him about who she is from the start.

    Replied on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 1:06am
  94. How can anyone expect someone to fall in love with them or even LIKE them if they have been lying about who they even are?

    Replied on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 1:07am
  95. well wait till he gets to prision—where people are not so defenseless

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 12:59am
  96. Good he should be put away

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 1:16am
  97. Prison is going to have fun with your punk ass….Bravo for justice for once.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 1:17am
  98. Make that nigger spend his life in hell after getting the death sentence

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 1:30am
  99. Great but im surprised. Florida is a very different place with very little tolerance and an awful lot of racism still. Im not excusing the suspects behavier. I myself am a lesbian. But he is surrounded by hate. I have culture shock everytime I go to Florida coming from San Francisco. Our worlds couldnt be further apart.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 1:30am
  100. He should get life!!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 1:30am
  101. I don’t ever think kids should be tried as adults. The justice system should be there to reform not act as a conduit for revenge.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 1:33am
  102. I honestly can’t believe how much ignorance is in this comment thread between the people saying he should be raped and the people using the N word…you’re all part of the problem with this world today and should be really ashamed of yourselves.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 1:36am
  103. Have The Lord teach him how to respect people without being a jerk. Don’t allow him to be in jail longer, just free him and maybe he won’t do it again

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 1:42am
  104. He should been taught long time ago to keep his hands to himself.,This is crazy people.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 1:48am
  105. give him LIFE…

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 1:55am
  106. good

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 2:06am
  107. I saw a dozen or so people say “She shouldn’t have lied to him”, or “she should have told him…”

    I cross-checked a dozen news stories on it. Here is the truth:

    “McDonald said she only met then 16-year old Spencer once before, the two exchanged phone numbers, started texting, and things quickly turned flirtatious. Before it got more serious, she disclosed to him in a text that she was transgender.”

    She did tell him. She didn’t lie to him.

    Before any relationship, before any sex, before any dates even. What is she supposed to do? When a guy says “Hi there! I’m Jim.” is she supposed to say “Stay back, I’m trans… I got cooties!”?

    Is a guy going to say “Hi, I’m Joe, I served two years in prison and I had my appendix out five years ago” before he even starts a conversation?

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 2:21am
  108. Good. No chance of parole, either.? I would hope.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 2:21am
  109. Suck it, creep

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 2:27am
  110. Yayyyyyy. Let him fucking rot in prison or let him rot while getting fucked in prison… LOL

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 2:43am
  111. Karma just came and bit a person with evil intentions in the tush!

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 2:47am
  112. So sad! How someone so young can be so full of hatred toward other human being…

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 2:50am
  113. Prison is too good of a place for scum bags. I say slowing slicing off his penis with a very sharp knife might be the wake call this scum bags needs!

    Posted on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 2:51am