Sentencing in Gay Homicide

Judge gives Justin Navarro 40 years in jail for murder of Kevin Massey

”I can’t sleep at night. All I see is my brother’s face.”

Those were the words of Tiffany Massey, a D.C. lesbian, telling the court about her brother, Kevin Massey, a 31-year-old gay man who died Nov. 6, 2009, of multiple stab wounds.

”He should be murdered just like my brother was,” she said at this morning’s sentencing of Justin Navarro, already convicted of killing Massey, in D.C. Superior Court. As Massey described Navarro’s actions, ”He butchered him.”

Tiffany Massey addressed Judge Lynn Leibovitz and a courtroom filled with family before the judge made her ruling, sentencing Navarro to 40 years behind bars for the killing Kevin Massey.

Leibovitz said she considered many factors in sentencing Navarro, though U.S. Attorney Sharad Khandelwal asked the judge for a total of 60 years of incarceration – 50 for the murder charge and 10 for obstruction of justice.

In explaining the sentence, Leibovitz pointed out that Navarro was not found guilty of a bias-related crime, which could have lengthened his sentence; that ”PCP played a role” in the homicide; and that Navarro has ”serious anger issues.”

”He lost control in an extreme and brutal way,” she said.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office had originally charged Navarro with committing a hate crime because of Massey’s sexual orientation. A statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office describing the attack details Navarro knocking on the victim’s door, at 4211 2nd St. NW, asking ”Where’s the faggot?” before walking in and grabbing a knife from Massey’s kitchen and stabbing him repeatedly. But the jury did not ”make that finding beyond a reasonable doubt,” according to a statement issued by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Prior to sentencing, Judge Leibovitz received two impact statements and a letter from Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV).

GLOV also released a statement to Metro Weekly following the May 24 sentencing.

”The brutality of the crime perpetrated against Kevin Massey was clearly motivated by his sexual orientation,” GLOV co-chair Hassan Naveed is quoted as saying. ”Although the sentence imposed by the court reflects its commitment to justice, it still fails to recognize the true nature of the crime. This was not a random act of brutality. Kevin Massey was stabbed several times by Justin Navarro because he was gay. The courts must recognize this as a hate crime and sentence it accordingly to reflect their commitment to social justice.”

In addition to Kevin Massey’s sister, his aunt, Wanda McFadden, also spoke, describing Kevin as a man who would help others when in need.

”He would help you no matter,” she said, referring to an incident in which Massey detained some youths attempting to steal a neighbor’s hubcaps until police arrived.

Before his sentencing, Navarro also spoke, addressing Kevin Massey’s family and offering an apology.

”To the man’s family, I know I seem nonchalant, but I’m sympathetic for their loss. I want to apologize about the incident.”

Talking to Metro Weekly after the sentencing, Tiffany Massey said she had hoped Navarro would have received a heavier sentence and said his apology was not sincere.

”It was some bullshit,” she said of Navarro’s apology. ”He’s sympathetic at the end. Why at the last minute? It meant nothing to me. It won’t bring my brother back and it won’t help nothing. He was very nonchalant throughout the trial, smirking and everything.”

Tiffany said her brother identified as gay, worked at a church and as a maintenance man. He also has a 15-year-old daughter.

”I’m going to continue to take care of her,” she said. ”That’s my pride and joy right there, and she looks just like Kevin. Every time she moves, it just reminds me of him.”

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