Syracuse Trans Murder Called Hate Crime

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday November 18, 2008

The suspect in the shooting death of a gay man in Syracuse is being kept in custody without bail.

Local newspaper the Post Standard reported Nov. 18 that 20-year-old Dwight DeLee was arraigned the day before in the shooting death of Moses Cannon, 22, on the evening of Nov. 14.

DeLee s charged with second-degree murder in the death of Cannon, nicknamed "Teish," an openly gay man who sometimes dressed as a woman, according to the Post Standard.

Cannon was not dressed as a woman when he was shot, allegedly by DeLee, who had reportedly left a party where he, Cannon, and Cannon's brother had attended that evening, fetched a .22 rifle, and then fired into the car where Cannon and his brother Mark were sitting.

Mark Cannon's arm was grazed by the bullet, which then struck Cannon in the chest, severing his aorta. Cannon bled to death.

A witness to the shooting identified DeLee as having fired the shot.

The case is being probed with an eye to determining whether it should be prosecuted as a hate crime, which could result in a longer jail term if DeLee is convicted.

The case can only be tried as a hate crime if the prosecution can make the case that DeLee had decided to kill Cannon specifically because of Cannon's sexual identity.

An earlier article that appeared at the Post Standard on Nov. 16 quoted chief of police Gary Miguel as saying that DeLee had gone and gotten his rifle after hearing others at the party "making profane and vulgar comments in regards to the sexual preference" of Cannon and his brother.

Added Miguel, "There was no previous argument between these individuals, there was no previous fight, there was no bad blood.

"Our suspect took a rifle and shot and killed this person, also wounding his brother, for the sole reason he didn't care for the sexual preference of our victim.

"Isn't that sad?" added Miguel. "Isn't that a sad situation that that's the sole reason why?"

The police chief went on, "I talk to you about this atmosphere of violence and that certain individuals believe that violence is the answer no matter what, and here's just another example."

DeLee was arrested in the early morning hours of Nov. 16 following a police search for him, the article said.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.