The partner and roommate of a transgender woman found fatally stabbed in a Van Nuys apartment last weekend has been charged with suspicion of murder and "arson of an inhabited property," the L.A. County District Attorney's Office announced. The suspect has pleaded not guilty.
The body of Yazmin Vash Payne, 33, was discovered about 5 a.m. Saturday following a fire at an apartment in the 14600 block of Saticoy Street, police said.
On Tuesday the District Attorney's office charged her "live-in partner," 25-year-old Ezekiel Jamal Dear, with fatally stabbing the woman and setting the apartment they shared on fire.
The Los Angeles Police Department said the small blaze in a bedroom was quickly doused. Payne's body was found in a kitchen, cops said. Paramedics pronounced her dead at the scene.
The National LGBTQ Task Force said it was "outraged" by the murder, citing the killings of three other transgender in four months in the United States.
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"The level of violence against transgender women in this country is unconscionable and has no place in our society," Darlene Nipper, deputy executive director of the group, said.
Suspect Dear is due back in court Feb. 13. He was being held in lieu of $1.27 million bail.
If he's successfully prosecuted, the 25-year-old could face 34 years behind bars.