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Guilty verdict handed down in murder of Iowa gender-fluid teen

Guilty verdict handed down in murder of Iowa gender-fluid teen
© Camille Fine

The investigation into the death of an Iowa teenager that drew the attention of Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsBeto O'Rourke on impeachment: 'There is enough there to proceed' Rosenstein to appear for House interview next week Emmet Flood steps in as White House counsel following McGahn departure MORE ended Friday with a guilty verdict for 23-year-old Jorge Sanders-Galvez.

Sanders-Galvez was charged with first-degree murder for the death of Kedarie Johnson, a self-identified gender-fluid 19-year-old who was murdered. According to The New York Times, Sanders-Galvez became enraged with Johnson during sexual intercourse upon discovering Johnson's biological gender. Johnson was shot twice and choked with a plastic bag.

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A second man, Jaron Purham, is also facing a murder charge in Johnson's death. 

Sessions and the Justice Department responded to the investigation by sending an experienced hate crimes prosecutor to assist with the case and convening a grand jury to look at possible hate crime charges, according to the Times.

Such charges would have to be brought at the federal level, as Iowa's hate crime statutes do not recognize gender-fluid individuals. Efforts by LGBT advocates to add gender-fluid individuals to the state laws died in the legislature last year, the Times reported.

Johnson's mother told the Times that she hopes her child's death will be prosecuted by the Justice Department as a hate crime.

“I’ve said that it was a hate crime since the day this all happened,” Katrina Johnson said. “And I do feel like it’s important that that be said.”