Gang member sentenced to life for killing transgender teen

Gang member sentenced to life for killing transgender teen
Mercedes Williamson (Photo source: George County Sheriff's Office)
Mercedes Williamson (Photo source: George County Sheriff's Office)

GEORGE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A Mississippi man will spend the rest of his life behind bars for the murder of a transgender teen.

Josh Vallum admitted Tuesday he killed Mercedes Williamson in 2015. After pleading guilty to the crime, Judge Robert Krebs sentenced the Latin Kings gang member to life in prison.

According to Jackson County District Attorney Tony Lawrence, Vallum stabbed the Alabama teenager several times then delivered the fatal blow with a hammer.

Williamson's body was found buried in a wooded area off Odom Rd. in the Rocky Creek community on June 2, 2015. The property belonged to Vallum's father.

Vallum turned himself in to authorities the same day the body was found.

In court, it came out that the two had a sexual relationship, which was against the by-laws of Vallum's gang. Lawrence reports that's what led to the slaying.

Vallum told the court he has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and he is taking medication to treat it.

Federal agents with the U.S. Department of Justice are continuing the investigation to determine if they will pursue this as a hate crime.

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