‘I hope he rots in hell’: Man who viciously murdered genderfluid teenager sentenced to life in prison
The man who killed genderfluid teenager Kedarie Johnson in a brutal, premeditated attack has been sentenced to life in prison without parole.
The 23-year-old was sentenced yesterday at the Des Moines County Courthouse in Burlington, Iowa.
His cousin, Jaron Purham, is in the process of being tried separately for the same crime of first-degree murder. He has pleaded not guilty.
Kedarie, who did not identify as trans, enjoyed dressing in women’s clothes and sometimes went by the name Kandicee.
He was found dead in an alley last year, with two bullet holes in his chest and a garbage bag wrapped around his head.
Before the sentencing was handed down, a statement from Kedarie’s mother Katrina was read out to the court, according to the Des Moines Register.
Katrina, who wore a shirt with the message “R.I.P. Kedarie” and images of her dead son, sobbed uncontrollably as court advocate Penny Galvin read her words.
“My son, Kedarie Johnson, was a loving son, brother, grandson, nephew and cousin,” the court was told.
“He was very compassionate and caring and he had an infectious smile. Kedarie could walk into a dull room and it would be filled with light and joy.
“Kedarie was robbed and deprived of his life,” Galvin added as Katrina was comforted by Kedarie’s brother, Cedric Pederson.
“He was still a baby, my loving baby, who still had his whole life ahead of him.
“And from March 2, 2016, until I take my last breath, I will forever have a deep hole in my heart.”
Turning her attentions briefly to Sanders-Galvez, she said: “I hope he gets the time he deserves and rots in hell.”
Johnson said before the hearing that she was still searching for a reason why her son had been murdered.
“Why him?” she asked. “Why my baby?”
She also said she wanted to hear from the murderer’s mother.
“As a mother and a woman, what I have been thinking is: ‘Does she have the heart to come to me and say she is sorry and (apologise) for what her son has done?'” she said.
“I just want to know: how does she feel about what has been said, and what has she been thinking throughout this whole thing?”
Katrina, who was awarded $150,000 in restitution, continued: “I know she lost her son to the system, but she still has him. You can talk to your son and visit your son.
“I lost my son and I can never get him back.”
One of Kedarie’s friends, 19-year-old Andre Giles, attended the final few days of the trial and the sentencing, which he said formed “the final piece of the puzzle.
“The trial was the first time that I had seen Kedarie’s body since the funeral, and to see those photos was to confront the reality of the horror of what happened to my friend, which was hard,” Giles said.
“But I survived that, and today was not as emotional as I thought it would be.”
Civil rights attorney Christopher J. Perras, parachuted in by the government to help with the investigation, said Sanders-Galvez and Purham had thought Kedarie was an attractive girl.
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He said the teenager – “a friendly high school student with a bright future” – was wearing a pink headband, women’s leggings and hair extensions when the two men saw him.
The cousins followed Kedarie, then took him to a home in the small Iowan city of Burlington.
During a sexual encounter, they discovered Kedarie was biologically male, the prosecutor said.
The court heard that the men became “enraged,” stuffing a plastic bag down Kedarie’s throat and tightly covering his mouth with a ripped T-shirt.
The cousins then shot Kedarie to death and dumped his body in the alley, the court was told.
Watch the sentencing below: