LGBT community advocates react to Vallum sentencing - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

LGBT community advocates react to Vallum sentencing

Joshua Vallum sentenced to 49 years in prison for a federal hate crime. (Image Source: WLOX News) Joshua Vallum sentenced to 49 years in prison for a federal hate crime. (Image Source: WLOX News)
Judge Louis Guirola sentenced Vallum in a Gulfport federal court and called what he did a heinous crime. (Image Source: WLOX News) Judge Louis Guirola sentenced Vallum in a Gulfport federal court and called what he did a heinous crime. (Image Source: WLOX News)
Vallum, a self-proclaimed member of the Latin Kings street gang, admitted to having a sexual relationship with the transgender teen prior to her murder and not wanting his fellow gang members to find out about their relationship. (Image Source: WLOX News) Vallum, a self-proclaimed member of the Latin Kings street gang, admitted to having a sexual relationship with the transgender teen prior to her murder and not wanting his fellow gang members to find out about their relationship. (Image Source: WLOX News)
SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) -

It was a landmark sentencing. Joshua Vallum sentenced to 49 years in prison for a federal hate crime. Judge Louis Guirola sentenced Vallum in a Gulfport federal court and called what he did a heinous crime.

Vallum is already serving a life sentence for stabbing and beating Mercedes Williamson to death back in May of 2015 at his childhood home in George County. Vallum, a self-proclaimed member of the Latin Kings street gang, admitted to having a sexual relationship with the transgender teen prior to her murder and not wanting his fellow gang members to find out about their relationship.

In court Monday, he read a letter calling Williamson a good person and saying he would give his life to bring her back.

Read more: Josh Vallum sentenced to prison for anti-transgender hate crime

Local allies of the LGBT community are reacting to the sentencing. Attorney Diane Ellis, who made headlines by fighting for gay couples to have the right to adopt in Mississippi, was excited about the outcome.

"It's the first of its kind for hate crimes of a transgender person. I'm proud that it came out of Mississippi," said Ellis.

Tony Boyette, who is an advocate of the LGBT community, has followed the case closely.

"I think this is a day for the LGBT community, their family, and their allies to celebrate that finally, we're getting closer to real justice," said Boyette.

Though Vallum was already sentenced to life in prison for Wiliamson's murder, Boyette feels the hate crime sentencing was necessary to prove a point.

"It does set a precedent that it is considered a hate crime federally, and it brings us closer to the equality that the LGBT community has been fighting so hard for," said Boyette.

In a statement WLOX News Now received from the Department of Justice Monday, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, "Today's sentencing reflects the importance of holding individuals accountable when they commit violent acts against transgender individuals. The Justice Department will continue its efforts to vindicate the rights of those individuals who are affected by bias motivated crimes."

Copyright 2017 WLOX. All rights reserved. 

Powered by Frankly