Dozens of community members gathered along with top D.C. officials at a vigil Saturday night, in honor of Deoni "Japarker" Jones. Police say Jones was stabbed and killed while waiting for a bus along East Capitol Street on February 2, 2012. Jones was transgender and lived as a woman.
The suspect in the case, Gary Niles Montgomery, was charged with first degree murder while armed. As loved ones gathered to remember Jones, they expressed concern that Montgomery has not been charged with a hate crime.
Mayor Vincent Gray, City Council members Yvette Alexander and David Catania, and top law enforcement officials were among those who braved the cold to show their support. Catania said, "There is no other explanation for this death in my mind. How it cannot be seen as a hate crime is beyond me."
The Mayor announced a new partnership between the Mayor's Office of GLBT Affairs and prosecutors to seek stronger punishments for people convicted of hate crimes. The U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement that it is "committed to pursuing hate/bias enhancements when investigations warrant and has had success in many cases. Because this matter is pending, we decline to discuss the specifics of this particular case."