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Brooklyn Man Arrested for Killing Trans Woman Islan Nettles

Wednesday Mar 4, 2015

Justice may have arrived 18 months late, but it's here.

Harlem prosecutors indicted a man they believe is responsible for the 2013 savage beating death of Islan Nettles, a 21-year-old transgender fashion company intern, DNA Info reports.

James Dixon, 24 of Brooklyn was charged with manslaughter and felony assault Tuesday. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. alleges Dixon was part of a group of men who were making catcalls and homophobic slurs at Nettles and two transgender friends on Eighth Avenue near 147th Street in Harlem.

Prosecutor Nicholas Viorst said Dixon abruptly punched Nettles in the face, knocking her to the ground and then continued to pummel her after she was knocked out.

"The back of Ms. Nettles head hit the pavement and it caused serious brain injury and also left her unconscious," Viorst said.

"Over the past 18 months, my Office has exhaustively investigated this case with the primary objective of making sure that justice is served for Islan Nettles," DA Vance said in a statement Tuesday. "A grand jury has voted to indict James Dixon on charges of manslaughter and assault for attacking this young transgender woman on a Harlem street. Her serious injuries caused her death days later."

Dixon, who has 11 prior arrests, initially turned himself in days after the attack. He pleaded not guilty to charges on Tuesday and is being held without bail pending a court hearing on March 19.

The New York Daily News reports the slow pace of the investigation into Nettle's death which drew criticism from LGBT activists who praised Vance's office's actions on Tuesday.

"We are heartened to see an indictment in the case and grateful to District Attorney Vance for bringing a measure of justice to Islan, her family, her friends and the transgender community," said Michael Silverman, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education initiative.

After news of the arrest was made public, "Orange is the New Black" breakout star Laverne Cox tweeted "Finally an arrest in this senseless crime."


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