Man sentenced to life in prison for stabbing transgender wife to death and hitting her with a hammer
A man has been sentenced to life in prison after he pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of his transgender wife Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien.
Mark Steele-Knudslien entered his guilty plea in Berkshire Superior Court, Massachusetts, yesterday (January 23). He was handed a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 25 years, WWLP.com reports.
Steele-Knudslien had been accused of stabbing his wife and hitting her with a hammer on January 4, 2018. The 49-year-old originally pleaded not-guilty but later changed his plea.
Transgender woman Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien died from stab wounds and blunt force trauma to the head.
An autopsy revealed that Christa Leigh died from a combination of blood loss arising from a stab wound to her torso as well as blunt force trauma to her head.
She was the founder of the Miss Trans America pageant and was well-known in her local LGBT+ community before her brutal murder.
She became the first transgender person murdered in 2018 in the United States when details of her shocking death emerged.
[He] stated he killed Christa by striking her numerous times with a hammer and then finally killed her by stabbing her in the back with a large knife.
Her husband was charged with her murder after he walked into a police station and confessed – however, he later pleaded not guilty.
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According to a police report of his first interview, he confessed to the murder and said he had done “something very bad.”
Her husband confessed to the murder, but later pleaded not guilty.
The report read: “[He] stated he killed Christa by striking her numerous times with a hammer and then finally killed her by stabbing her in the back with a large knife.
“Steele-Knudslien later wrapped Christa’s body in a tarp and moved her to the basement which is where the body could be found.”
A year before her murder, Christa wrote on Facebook that she and her husband were happy together, but also hinted at issues going on in the background.
“My husband and I are going to try to work things out,” Christa wrote on Facebook last January.
According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), at least 26 trans people were murdered in the United States in 2018, with Christa being the first of the year.
Trans women of colour disproportionately face violence and make up the majority of trans people murdered in the United States.