NYC man gets 12-year term for death of transgender woman

AP News
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Posted: Apr 19, 2016 3:10 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — A man who repeatedly punched a transgender woman on a New York City street in a case that prompted protests was sentenced Tuesday to 12 years in prison for her death.

James Dixon pleaded guilty earlier this month to manslaughter in the death of 21-year-old Islan Nettles, an assistant at a fashion company. Prosecutors had recommended a 17-year sentence.

Nettles was one of three transgender women who encountered a group of about seven young men on a Harlem street Aug. 17, 2013. Dixon flirted with Nettles before realizing she was transgender. He then punched her in the face, and she fell and hit her head on the pavement. Dixon hit her some more before fleeing.

Her death, five days later, led to vigils and protests.

In a recorded confession played at a pretrial hearing, Dixon said he flirted with Nettles until a friend mocked him. He said he remembered "lashing out" when he realized he was talking to a transgender woman.

Dixon said he pushed away from Nettles and started to walk away, but she shoved him from behind. He said he tripped, then got up and began punching her.

Dixon wasn't charged with a hate crime; he said he didn't use slurs when he hit Nettles. He also said he did not hate transgender people.

"I don't care what they do," he said. "I just didn't want to be fooled."