Suspect Jailed in Death of NJ Transgender Woman

Sunday, Oct 24, 2010  |  Updated 10:05 AM EDT
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Suspect Jailed in Death of NJ Transgender Woman

Erin Littles

Transgendered murder victim Victoria Carment White.

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One of two suspects in the death of a 28-year-old Newark woman has turned himself in to authorities.

Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino announced in an e-mail Saturday that 25-year-old Marquise Foster of North Plainfield surrendered at about 8 p.m. Saturday. Foster was wanted in Victoria Carmen White's Sept. 12 death.

Laurino has said authorities are investigating whether White was killed because of her sexual orientation or gender identity. She was described as transgender. The prosecutor's office also is investigating whether a March 15 slaying was related to the victim's sexual orientation.

Prosecutors said Foster was accompanied by an attorney. Bail was set at $1 million. He was being held on a murder charge. Authorities also are looking for a second suspect in White's death.

White, 28,  spent her last night alive in her Maplewood, N.J. apartment after meeting two men at a bar in nearby Irvington last month.

Meantime, police in Newark are also investigating another hate crime.

Arthur Downey, 27, was gay. His last night alive was on March 15th of this year, after picking up a partner from an on-line chat room and going to his apartment -- also in Maplewood.

In Downey's murder, they have arrested John Staten, 30, of Orange.

"Sadly in both cases we're investigating, the possibility exists that the sexual orientation of the victims may have played a role in each case," said Acting Essex Prosecutor Robert Laurino.

White died after some sort of altercation, possibly after the discovery of her transgendered status, according to one source.

"There were certain comments made at the scene of the crime which lead us to believe that the defendants did know her sexual orientation," Laurino said.

When asked if sexual bias crimes are an issue, Laurino said, "It is a problem."

"Quite often you find that members of the LGBT community are often targeted because of their sexual orientation," Laurino added.

He said both cases have been turned over to the Bias Crimes unit in his office.

Garden State Equality founder Steve Goldstein said his organization will offer a $2,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of either or both suspects.

Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY

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