Guilty Plea in Amanda Milan Killing
2000 stabbing of transgendered woman yields 17 years to life
[NEW YORK, NY] - Dwayne McCuller, the killer of Amanda Milan, has pleaded guilty in the 2000 homicide and will be given a sentence of 17-and-a-half years to life on November 22.
"We're glad that this phase is over and ended," said Clarence Patton, director of community organizing and public advocacy at the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project. "We do think that, given the circumstances, given the hard work of the D.A.'s office, that the deal struck was a good deal... He will be put away for at least 18 years and because of the mental issues he is suffering with he will have supervision after that. We hope he will have some professional care for that as well."
McCuller, now 22, stabbed the 25-year-old Milan to death on June 20, 2000 near West 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue. Activists charged that the attack was motivated by anti-transgender bias. On November 8, McCuller pleaded guilty. He admitted to possessing the murder weapon and using it to inflict serious bodily injury on Milan.
McCuller's trial was postponed last year after he won a ruling from a court-appointed psychiatrist saying that he was not fit to stand trial. As part of his plea deal, McCuller has agreed to not contest a ruling made earlier this year that he was now fit. The pace of the prosecution was frustrating for some activists and the sentence may seem too short.
"To me it seems a rather light sentence given the brutality of the crime," said Pauline Park, co-chair of the New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy. "Obviously we are delighted that he was convicted and that he will serve time for the murder. When one considers the very long sentences given for similar crimes against non-transgender people, I have to think that many in the transgender community will be disappointed."
Still the case is notable for the very quick response by police and the, ultimately, effective prosecution.
"The police did follow up on it and someone will be serving time for the murder," Park said. "In many cases police do not take crimes against transgender people seriously... I think that justice has been done in that the murderer will be doing time for this crime. That is more than what happens in most transgender hate crimes."
Fred Seligman, McCuller's attorney did not respond to a call seeking comment. One of McCuller's co-defendants has already been sentenced and the second is awaiting trial.
David Anderson, 32, was charged with hindering prosecution and he pleaded guilty earlier this year. Anderson received a sentence of one- and-a-half to three years. He tried to help McCuller leave New York City after the killing.
Eugene Celestine, 28, is charged with criminally negligent homicide for allegedly assisting McCuller during the killing. Celestine faces up to four years in prison if convicted. He is slated to go to trial early next year.