JUSTICE DEFERRED

Trans Woman Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald Sentenced To 41 Months For Slaying Attacker

Today, Minneapolis Judge Daniel Moreno sentenced Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald to 41 months in prison for stabbing to death a man she claims attacked her and her friends.

McDonald, a black trans woman, initially faced second-degree murder but after accepting a plea bargain, her charges were reduced to second-degree manslaughter due to negligence. She is also to pay $6,410 in restitution.

In June 2011,  McDonald stabbed Dean Schmitz outside Schooner Tavern. In her trial she claimed she acted in self-defense after she and her friends were confronted by Schmitz and a group of people shouting racist and transphobic slurs. At one point, she said, one of Schmitz’s friends smashed a glass on the side of her face.

The trial attracted much attention from LGBT activists nationwide. Stone Butch Blues author Leslie Feinberg, who attended the proceedings sent a letter to ADA Michael Freeman requesting he cease prosecution. “The right of self-defense against all forms of oppressions–the spirit of Stonewall–is at the heart of the demand to free [McDonald],” she wrote.

According to the Trans Youth Support Network, during McDonald’s sentencing hearing community leaders, clergy and McDonald’s family testified to her character and expressed concern for her safety if she was sentenced to a men’s prison, as is likely.

“This is not a resolution to CeCe’s case: she should not be serving time simply for surviving a vicious attack,” said supporter Josina Manu. “But the prosecution felt so much pressure in this high-profile case that they knew they had to offer a less egregious charge than second-degree murder. We’ll stand by CeCe throughout her sentence and after she’s released.”