News Briefing: Jan. 2-8, 2015

News Briefing: Jan. 2-8, 2015

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D.A. urges withdrawal of Morris appeal

In a Dec. 17 email, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office urged PGN to withdraw its legal appeal for complete dispatch records

pertaining to the Nizah Morris case.

The agency said an appeal in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court would prove to be “protracted” and “fruitless.”

But the agency hasn’t provided the requested records, nor has it provided an attestation of non-existence stating under penalty of perjury that it doesn’t have them.

In a Dec. 17 reply, PGN asked the D.A.’s office to conduct a comprehensive search for the requested records.

If the D.A.’s Office can’t locate any responsive records after such a search, PGN offered to assist the agency in formulating an attestation of non-existence containing appropriate language.

As of presstime, the D.A.’s Office hadn’t responded to the paper’s offer.

Morris was a transgender woman who sustained a fatal head wound shortly after entering a police vehicle in 2002, ostensibly for a ride home. Her homicide remains unsolved, and advocates want a state probe.

Oral arguments in PGN’s appeal for the dispatch records are expected some time after May 4, if the matter isn’t resolved before then. 

Williams court date set

A pre-trial status conference in the homicide case of transwoman Diamond Williams has been scheduled for Jan. 21, according to court records.

Charles N. Sargent stands accused of stabbing to death Williams, then dismembering her body, in July 2013.

Sargent recently sent letters to the court, the contents of which are expected to be discussed at the pre-trial conference, set for 9 a.m. Jan. 21 in Courtroom 1105 of the Criminal Justice Center, 1315 Filbert St.

Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner will preside.

According to a statement Sargent gave to police, he admitted inviting Williams to his Strawberry Mansion residence during the early-morning hours of July 14, 2013.

Sargent claims he stabbed Williams in self-defense after she demanded a pre-arranged payment of $40 for having sex with him, which he refused to pay since she had male genitalia.

He’s charged with murder, abuse of corpse and possessing an instrument of crime.

Sargent, 45, remains incarcerated at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Northeast Philadelphia.

— Timothy Cwiek

Privacy efforts continue in HIV suit

U.S. District Court Judge Gene Pratter last month ordered a man who is suing a Lancaster County medical practice for HIV discrimination to file an amended, sealed complaint specifying the full names of his family.

On Dec. 2, “Husband Jones” sought anonymity for himself, his wife and underage daughter to protect them from any possible further discrimination or retaliation based on his HIV-positive status. Jones complied with Pratter’s order, filing the amended complaint Dec. 17.

Jones was dismissed from and refused further treatment by Diamantoni & Associates Family Practice in Quarryville in October 2013. The practice learned of his HIV status after routine blood work was performed at the practice for the first time.

Upon a follow-up visit a few days later to discuss the results of his blood work, Jones was given a signed letter dismissing him and his family from the practice for allegedly leaving copious amounts of blood in the office bathroom, which the office said recklessly endangered other patients.

Jones and his family, represented by the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, sued, claiming violations of the American with Disabilities Act, including unlawful discrimination in public accommodations based on a disability (HIV), as well as intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Quizzo to benefit youth scholarship

An LGBT group at a private Philadelphia school is hosting a fundraiser that will benefit a special scholarship created by a former out school administrator.

The LGBT Affinity Group of the Friends Select School’s Parent Association is sponsoring a fundraiser Quizzo night hosted by drag queen Martha Graham Cracker 7-9 p.m. Jan. 9 at William Way LGBT Community Center, 1315 Spruce St.

Proceeds from the event will be split between The Attic Youth Center and Friends Select’s David A. Wood Scholarship, which provides financial aid to a lower- or middle-school student from an LGBT-headed household.

A wine tasting by Moore Brothers Wine Company will begin at 6 p.m. Childcare for FSS K-4 students is available.

Tickets must be purchased in advance. For more information, contact Marissa Colston at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

— Ryan Kasley

GayBINGO! celebrates Golden Globes

Guests will be dressed to the nines for the first GayBINGO! of the year, themed around the Golden Globes.

The event, which raises funds for AIDS Fund, will take place 7-11 p.m. Jan. 10 at Gershman Y, 401 S. Broad St.

For tickets, call 215-731-9255.

— Jen Colletta


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