Metro Weekly

Florida man could face life sentence for murdering transgender woman and setting her body on fire

Terry Brady was convicted of shooting Yaz'min Shancez to death, then burning her body

Yaz'min Shancez - Photo: Facebook.

Yaz’min Shancez – Photo: Facebook.

A Florida man accused of shooting a transgender woman to death, then burning her body and discarding it behind a dumpster, could face life in prison after being convicted on Thursday. Following two days of testimony, a jury found 47-year-old Terry Brady, of Fort Myers, guilty of the 2014 murder of 31-year-old Yaz’min Shancez, reports the Naples Daily News.

Prosecutors chose not to pursue Shancez’s death as a hate crime, and downplayed her gender identity in the course of the trial. But attorneys familiar with the case said it was likely her gender identity played an “implicit role” in the trial. Prosecutors never offered a motive for the homicide, instead relying on physical evidence to tie Brady to the crime. According to investigators, two people told them they believed that Brady had a sexual relationship with Shancez.

Brady’s lawyer Robert Harris told Daily News that he expects Circuit Judge Frank Porter to issue a lifetime prison sentence when Brady appears for sentencing in Lee County Court next month.

Harris also said he intends to appeal the grounds on which a warrant allowing police to search Brady’s apartment was served, as well as the denial of an extension he requested — which he believes would have helped the defense craft a more convincing argument that someone else was responsible for the crime.

The crux of the physical evidence revolved around six bullets used to kill Shancez, and the fact that the body had been set alight twice following her death. Prosecutors put forward surveillance videos from a local gas station showing Brady next to his car, which were then linked to a third video of the same car near the spot where Shancez’s remains were found, behind a truck rental site.

Police later obtained a warrant to search Brady’s apartment, where they found a handgun that matched five of the six bullets recovered at the crime scene, according to the arrest report. The last bullet was a fragment and couldn’t be conclusively linked. Prosecutors also showed the jury evidence that Brady’s DNA had been found on the grip of the gun and on the magazine inside it.

Shancez’s family expressed relief at Brady’s conviction, with her cousin, Jasmine Weaver, saying she hopes the judge does give Brady a lifetime sentence.

“Hopefully he can sit in there and think about what he did,” she said. “You leave a family with the open scars that we have now.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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