Josh Vallum, a member of the Latin Kings gang, killed his 17-year-old transgender girlfriend Mercedes Williamson. If Vallum's murder is determined a hate crime, he could face the death penalty.
Vallum claims that he was kissing Williamson in a car when he put his hand between her legs and felt a penis. According to his story, it was at that moment he blacked out and the next thing he knew, he was standing over her body with a hammer in his hand.
In his supposed blackout state, Vallum told Williamson they were going to have sex somewhere, but he had other plans for her. He drove her across the Mississippi state line when she became suspicious of where he was taking her.
When they stopped, Vallum stabbed her with a knife then used a hammer to kill her. He put the murder weapons in a plastic bag and threw them over the bridge.
Apparently, the Latin Kings have a rule prohibiting the gang members from same-sex relationships. Williamson was aware of this rule and even confided in her roommate that she and her boyfriend would be killed if the Latin Kings found out she was transgender.
Vallum also claims he had no idea Williamson was transgender, but Williamson's roommate said Vallum definitely must have known because Vallum and Williamson had sex.
Vallum pleaded guilty to killing Williamson this past Tuesday, nearly a year after killing her. He also blamed his actions on his bipolar disorder, which he takes medication for.
As it stands, Vallum's crime is considered a first-degree murder, but if the court deems a hate crime, Vallum could be given the death penalty. Right now, his sentence has given him life in prison.
In her ESPY Awards acceptance speech last year, Caitlyn Jenner honored Williamson. Williamson was one of at least 21 transgender women killed in America in 2015. She was studying to be a cosmetologist.