The mother of a ‘gender-fluid’ teenager who was murdered in March 2016 has said she hopes the alleged killers are given the death penalty.
Kendarie Johnson was found dead in an alley in Burlington, Iowa, after allegedly being invited to have a threesome with Jorge Sanders-Galvez, 23 and his cousin Jaraon Purham, 25.
When the men found out the 16-year-old, who also went by the name Kandicee, identified as male and female but was born biologically male, they brutally murdered them in an alley, federal prosecutors say.
And now, the victim’s mother Katrina Johnson, has said that she hopes their killers are given the death penalty and that she can sit next to their parents while they watch their sons be put to death.
‘If they are indicted on a hate crime, the death penalty is a possibility of punishment,’ she told the Des Moines Register.
‘And as harsh as it may sound, I would love to sit side-by-side with their parents and watch their children die.’
The mother of the ‘gender-fluid’ teenager who was murdered in March 2016 has come out to say that she hopes their alleged killers are given the death penalty. Katrina and Kendarie are pictured together before the 16-year-old’s murder
Prosecutors say Johnson (left and right), who identified as both a man and a woman and also went by the name ‘Kandicee’, had engaged in sex with both Sanders-Galvez and his cousin
Katrina Johnson, has said that she hopes his killers are given the death penalty and that she can sit next to their parents while they watch their sons be put to death. One of the alleged killers, Jorge Sanders-Galvez is pictured being escorted into the court room during jury selection
Sanders-Galvez (left) and cousin Jaron Purham (right) allegedly became furious after finding out Johnson was biologically male. Purham is currently locked up in Missouri after allegedly driving into a cop car; police say a revolver found in his car was used to kill Johnson
Speaking to the Register, Katrina Johnson said she is still having a hard time coming to terms with her child’s death.
‘My son was tragically and horrifically murdered, and I can never come back from that,’ she told the paper, holding back tears.
‘Just to know the last words my baby ever said to me was “see you later ma’ I love you,” and to come to terms with myself to know that his “see you later” actually meant “see you later,” I can’t get get that back.’
Johnson’s body was discovered in an alley way with their head wrapped in a plastic bag after locals heard gunshots and called police.
It’s believed that the murder occurred after Sanders-Galvez, an aspiring rapper who went by the name ‘Lumni’, spotted Johnson leaving a Hy-Vee supermarket and then began flirting with the teen.
Johnson, who was described as a popular high-school student by locals, would alternate between masculine and feminine names, and did not subscribe to one gender.
Sanders-Galvez persuaded Johnson to get in his car, then brought Johnson to a home to have sex with him and Purham, according to Christopher Perras, a federal prosecutor assigned to the crime by Jeff Sessions.
But during the encounter Sanders-Galvez discovered that Johnson was ‘biologically male’ and became enraged, Perras wrote in a court document filed Wednesday.
The cousins ‘over the next hour suffocated Kedarie by stuffing a rag down his throat and wrapping a plastic bag around his head,’ Perras alleged.
They then ‘threw him in their car, drove to another part of town, dumped him in an alley and shot him several times until he bled to death,’ he concluded.
Johnson’s body was discovered in the alley, the teen’s head still wrapped in a plastic bag, after locals heard gunshots and called police.
Speaking to the Register, Katrina Johnson (pictured in court Thursday, October 19) said she is still having a hard time coming to terms with her child’s death
Sanders-Galvez says he never met Johnson, though detectives say they were Facebook friends. The incident occurred in Burlington, Iowa. He is pictured on the first official day of his trial on Tuesday
Jorge Sanders-Galvez’s (pictured on Thursday) trial began Tuesday for the murder of Burlington teen Kedarie Johnson, who was found shot to death in an alley in March 2016
Investigators also said that before the slaying, Johnson had stopped at a female friend’s home, expressing concerns about someone named ‘Lumni’ and being followed by a red car.
Johnson asked to borrow several bras, which the teen put in a backpack before leaving alone and on foot, according to court documents.
Investigators said Johnson is seen on surveillance video outside the Hy-Vee store wearing braids, pajama bottoms and a black jacket as a red Impala linked to Purham and Sanders-Galvez follows closely behind.
According to investigators, they later found Johnson’s backpack at a Burlington home in which Purham and Sanders-Galvez had been staying with Purham’s pregnant girlfriend in the weeks before the killing.
Both men fled to the St Louis area within 48 hours after Johnson’s slaying, police said.
Retired nurse Jenna Sansone, whose home backs onto the alley where Johnson was found, said she could smell the bleach that had been poured on the bullet-riddled body, an apparent attempt to destroy DNA evidence.
Sanders-Galvez has pleaded not guilty and told investigators last year that he had never met Johnson.
However, investigators say the pair were friends on Facebook – though it’s not clear how long they had been connected, or whether they had met before.
Johnson’s body was discovered in the alley, the teen’s head still wrapped in a plastic bag, after locals heard gunshots and called police
Because Iowa can’t press hate crimes against LGBT people, a federal prosecutor has been sent in by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to press charges against Sanders-Galvez (seen Thursday)
Federal prosecutor Christopher Perras (right) talks to Burlington detective Eric Short and Des Moines County Attorney Amy Beavers. A federal grand jury is to be called in regard to the case
Purham, who is expected to stand trial later, is currently serving time in Missouri after he was convicted on charges related to his flight from officers tying to arrest him last year.
Officers said they recovered a .357 revolver in his vehicle after he drove into a police car outside St Louis.
Testing showed that it was the gun used to shoot Johnson, they said.
Sanders-Galvez’s trial is expected to last two weeks, and he faces life in prison if convicted. His attorney declined to comment.
Sansone said that the trial could clear up ‘a lot of questions about what happened and why it happened’; she plans to attend at the request of Johnson’s mother.
A federal grand jury has been convened to consider whether the men should face hate crime charges, but no decision has been announced.
The horrific allegations highlight how Iowa law, unlike federal law, doesn’t allow prosecutors to bring hate crime charges based on gender identity, said Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel, executive director of One Iowa, an LBGTQ advocacy group.
‘These things are horrible and very unfortunate but they force us as community members to have these difficult conversations and hopefully we can work to prevent them from happening,’ he said.
The federal intervention, ordered by Jeff Sessions, has been welcomed by LGBTQ-rights advocates who have criticized the Attorney General and President Donald Trump for broadly eroding their legal protections.