News Briefing: Oct. 21-27, 2016

News Briefing: Oct. 21-27, 2016

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Trial scheduled for defendant in Keisha Jenkins murder 

Just after the one-year anniversary of the shooting death of transgender woman Keisha Jenkins in Logan, a trial date was set for the man accused in the incident.

Pedro Redding, 25, heads to trial July 17 with Judge Diana L. Anhalt presiding, according to court documents. He faces charges of murder, conspiracy and related offenses. A trial-readiness conference is scheduled for Oct. 25. Redding remains in custody at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. He was denied bail.

According to Philadelphia police, Redding was among a group of several individuals who assaulted Jenkins, 22, at 13th and Wingohocking streets around 2:30 a.m. Oct. 6, 2015. Jenkins was shot twice in the back during the altercation.

Police do not believe Redding was the shooter. No further arrests have been made. Police said the motive was robbery and that evidence didn’t suggest Jenkins was targeted for being transgender.

Out Colorado Congressman campaigns locally for Clinton

An out Congressman from Colorado spoke to LGBT voters last weekend in Allentown while on the campaign trail for Democrat Hillary Clinton.

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, known as the first gay parent elected to Congress, met dozens at Candida’s, an LGBT bar that has operated for four decades.

“It was great to visit with members of the LGBT community in Allentown,” he told PGN, noting he talked about the importance of electing Clinton, and other Democrats like Katie McGinty, for the equality movement.

“Pennsylvania is a huge and politically diverse state,” Polis said. “It’s going to be extremely close in the presidential as well as the Senate race.”

Polis co-authored the Equality Act, which would extend federal nondiscrimination protections to the LGBT community. He said Clinton has expressed her commitment to ensuring the law would reach the president’s desk.

Polis said Clinton has engaged several LGBT surrogates to keep the community at the forefront of the election. Annise Parker, the former mayor of Houston and a lesbian, recently spoke in North Carolina. Barney Frank, a former Congressman from Massachusetts, visited Colorado.

— Paige Cooperstein

Deadline set in Morris case

Under a deadline set by Commonwealth Court, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office has until Nov. 2 to file its appellant’s brief in a dispute with PGN involving Nizah Morris records

Morris was an African-American trans woman found with a fatal head injury in 2002, shortly after entering a police vehicle in the Gayborhood for a “courtesy ride.”

PGN is seeking a certified copy of computer-aided dispatch records for a traffic stop initiated by Officer Elizabeth Skala. Inexplicably, Skala initiated the traffic stop while assigned to Morris, who was intoxicated.

In June, a Philadelphia judge ruled that the D.A.’s Office certified its dispatch records for Skala’s traffic stop in a February 2015 affidavit. However, the D.A.’s Office is appealing the ruling in Commonwealth Court. 

After the D.A.’s Office files its appellant’s brief, PGN has 30 days to file a reply brief. 

City issues correction in police dispute

City attorney Elise M. Bruhl last month corrected a misstatement she made during oral arguments in a federal case involving a police dispute.

Philadelphia Detective Kenneth Rossiter claims he was unfairly fired in 2011 due to anti-union bias. He’s suing the city for an unspecified amount in monetary damages.

Last month, during oral arguments at the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, Bruhl said the local police union has 16,500 members. But on Sept. 28, Bruhl sent a letter to the court, stating the local police union actually has 6,500 active-duty members.

Rossiter, who’s investigated several LGBT-related homicides, contends that city officials violated his constitutional rights when firing him. But city officials say Rossiter was properly fired due to overtime abuses. An independent arbitrator eventually reinstated Rossiter with full back pay and benefits. 

— Timothy Cwiek

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