News (USA)

Street gang member indicted in transgender teen’s death

LUCEDALE, Miss. — A documented member of the Latin Kings street gang allegedly used a hammer to beat to death a transgender teen who once considered him a boyfriend.

A George County grand jury indicted 28-year-old Joshua Vallum in the killing of 17-year-old Mercedes Williamson, of Theodore, Alabama. Williamson’s death made national news last year when Caitlyn Jenner remembered her during an acceptance speech for the Arthur Ashe award at the ESPY awards.

The Sun Herald reports Vallum was transferred Friday from the East Central Mississippi Correctional Facility to the Jackson County jail to undergo a mental evaluation. He was to return to the prison in Meridian once the examination was completed.

Vallum has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the case. The grand jury indicted him on the lessor charge of murder, which carries a maximum penalty of up to life in prison.

His trial is set for Feb. 1.

Vallum’s attorney, David Futch, declined to comment.

According to the indictment, Williamson died sometime between May 30, 2015 and June 2, 2015.

District Attorney Tony Lawrence would not say Friday whether the case was still being looked at as a possible hate crime.

“This investigation is still ongoing and I cannot comment on what additional charges, if any, will arise out of that,” Lawrence said.

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