A jury found Justin L. Navarro guilty of first-degree murder for stabbing Kevin Massey 18 times.
They did not find Navarro guilty of a hate crime.
Navarro, convicted on March 22, faces a minimum of 30 years behind bars for killing Massey, a 31-year-old gay man, in the victim’s home at 4211 2nd St. NW, on Nov. 6, 2009.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office had originally charged Navarro with committing a hate crime because of Massey’s sexual orientation. But the jury did not ”make that finding beyond a reasonable doubt,” according to a press release issued by the U.S. Department of Justice.
A.J. Singletary, co-chair of Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV), said the organization will be working with community members to compile community impact statements for Navarro’s sentencing on May 24.
”The defense that Navarro’s lawyers used was they basically said that Navarro was afraid Massey was going to attack or rape him, which is a form of what we call the ‘gay panic defense,”’ Singletary says.
”The gay panic defense is prevalent, it’s homophobic and it’s dangerous, especially if it’s getting people off [hate crime convictions]. … It shouldn’t be upheld in court.”
According to the Justice Department, the jury also found Navarro guilty of obstruction of justice, tampering with evidence and carrying a dangerous weapon.
One month prior to the murder, also according to the Justice Department, teenagers outside the building where the murder took place taunted Navarro ”particularly when the defendant’s loose pants began to fall down. According to a witness … Massey leaned over to pull up the defendant’s pants for him. In response to this act, the teenagers began teasing the defendant by saying Massey was going to make the defendant ‘his next bitch.’
”On Nov. 6, 2009, the defendant knocked on the door of Massey’s apartment and asked, ‘Where’s the faggot?’ After being told Massey was in the bedroom, the defendant went into the kitchen and grabbed a large butcher knife. The defendant went into the bedroom, and, without any warning, began stabbing Mr. Massey repeatedly. Mr. Massey died on the scene.”