A Queens attorney didn't do much to help his client yesterday when he argued that his defendant's hefty sentence for murdering a transgender woman should be reserved for someone who kills "certain classes of individuals."
Last month, 32-year-old Rasheen Everett was convicted of the 2010 murder of Amanda Gonzalez-Andujar, a transgender prostitute. Prosecutors said Everett, who has a history of abuse, choked the 29-year-old Gonzalez-Andujar to death allegedly after he discovered she had male genitalia, bleaching her body and fleeing her Queens apartment with her camera, suitcase, keys, laptop, coat and cell phone. "He said he choked her until she wasn’t breathing," the prosecution's witness, Darius Ferguson, told the court.
But at Everett's sentencing hearing yesterday—at which he was served a sentence of 29 years to life—defense attorney John Scarpa caught the ire of the judge when he argued against the victim's character. "Shouldn’t that [sentence] be reserved for people who are guilty of killing certain classes of individuals?" he reportedly asked, adding, "Who is the victim in this case? Is the victim a person in the higher end of the community?"
Scarpa says he was speaking about the victim's history, not her status as a transgender person. "He himself was guilty of attempted murder," he told us, referring to Gonzalez-Andujar's HIV-positive status as a prostitute, and detailing her history of drug use. "I thought it was loathsome for the judge to say this was a good person."
But Queens Supreme Court Justice Richard Buchter, who described Everett as "coldhearted and violent menace to society," didn't take too kindly to Scarpa's argument. "This court believes every human life in sacred," he said. "It’s not easy living as a transgender, and I commend the family for supporting her."
This wasn't the defense's first misstep in the trial; in October, during a cross-examination of one of Everett's ex-girlfriends in October, Scarpa accidentally allowed the witness to reveal more of the defendant's history of abuse. "Our breakup was because he choked me,” she said when Scarpa asked her why their relationship ended. “I dislike him for what he did to me.” A juror later told the Post that the admission "didn’t close the case for me at that point, I wanted to be fair, but it did for some of the other jurors."