Transsexual Gets at Least 50 Years for Killing Woman
[SAN BERNARDINO, CA] - A transsexual [woman] was sentenced Wednesday in San Bernardino Superior Court to 50 years to life in prison for fatally shooting a woman with a shotgun while she was on the phone with police in a motel lounge.
Lyralisa Stevens, 33, of San Bernardino sat quietly in the courtroom of Judge Ronald M. Christianson while [her] sentence was handed down.
Stevens received one 25 year-to-life sentence for first-degree murder and another 25 years to life for using a gun to cause great bodily injury.
It was unclear Wednesday if Stevens, who has had breast implants, takes estrogen and wore a navy blue skirt throughout [her] weeklong trial, will be housed in the men's wing or women's wing in prison.
"[She] is genetically a man, anatomically from the waist down. I don't see why [she] wouldn't be housed in a men's institution,' said Deputy District Attorney Ron Webster, who prosecuted Stevens. "I will assume [she] will have some sort of protective custody because of [her] sexual orientation.'
Webster said Stevens was housed in the men's wing at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga during [her] jail stint, but was in protective custody.
A jury convicted Stevens of first-degree murder Nov. 8 after [her] attorney, public defender Rod Curbelo, withdrew a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.
Had Stevens fought for an insanity defense, Curbelo would have had to prove in a second phase of the trial that Stevens was not sane when [she] killed Bonnie Lynn Lewis, 45, at the Desert Inn Motel in San Bernardino on June 8, 2001.
Stevens and Lewis had been involved in an ongoing quarrel over $400 Lewis claimed Stevens owed her for women's clothing, Webster said.
Defense attorneys argued Stevens was acting in self-defense and that Lewis had returned to the motel three times over a two-day period after police and motel management told her to stay away.
A San Bernardino police officer encouraged Stevens to get a restraining order against Lewis the day before the shooting, according to court testimony.
Two motel employees testified at a previous court hearing that Lewis arrived at the Fifth Street motel the day of the shooting irate and yelling at the motel manager. She walked into a lounge to use a pay phone to call police.
The two motel employees also testified they saw Stevens descend the stairs cradling a shotgun wrapped in a white towel.
Stevens walked into the lounge and started yelling at Lewis, then fired a blast from the gun. [She] then walked back up the stairs toward [her] room, turning to the two employees and saying, "No one threatens my home.'
Motel employee Leah Heathcoat said during her testimony that she ran into the lounge after the shooting and found Lewis lying on the ground groaning and dying. The phone was off its hook and swaying back and forth from the cord.
[Editor's Note: Pronouns corrected.]