Chrishaun McDonald’s trial continued

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McDonald granted furlough to work, denied request to return to college

December 21, 2011

Minneapolis, MN – Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald appeared in court, Dec. 20 for a hearing where it was decided that her trial will begin on April 30, 2012, instead of the original start date of Jan. 9. Judge Moreno also ruled that, given the delayed trial date, McDonald will be permitted furlough time to seek employment and, once she finds a job, to go to work. The defense argued that McDonald should be granted furlough time to return to continue her schooling at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, given that she has been a “model citizen” in the months since her release from jail. However, Judge Moreno ruled against this request. The prosecution opposed both work and educational furloughs for McDonald, although they did not cite any specific rationalization for their position.

Both the defense and the prosecution in McDonald’s case supported the continuance. The defense plans to call an expert witness to testify regarding Dean Schmitz’s toxicology on the night that he attacked McDonald, but this witness is unavailable for the earlier trial date. The prosecution cited “pending legal issues,” noting that they need to conduct a handwriting analysis on a letter that McDonald allegedly wrote to the Minneapolis Star Tribune in June, as well as verify the credentials of the defense’s expert witness.

“We’re glad that the judge granted CeCe’s request for work furlough. But it’s alarming that they’re keeping her from continuing her college education – why won’t they let a Black woman go to school but they will let her work?” said local hip-hop artist Heidi Barton-Stink. “These charges have disrupted CeCe’s life for too long already. The only real solution is for Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman to drop these unjust charges so that CeCe can go back to her life.”

Although McDonald was given less than 24 hours notice of today’s court proceedings, around 20 of her family members and supporters filled the courtroom to remind the prosecution and the judge that McDonald has strong community backing.

“It’s clear that the prosecution thinks that, with the delayed trial date, community support for CeCe and public attention on her case will diminish,” said Jay Jahmia Masika of the Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition. “But we see right through this; we know that the prosecution doesn’t have anything on CeCe and they need more time to scramble to put together a case. We’ll keep showing up to every court date and throwing events for CeCe, no matter when she goes to trial.”

Chrishaun McDonald is a young African-American transgender woman who was attacked by a group of white adults while walking by the Schooner Tavern on Lake Street in South Minneapolis. The attack occurred early on the morning of June 5. As Ms. McDonald and her friends walked past the bar on their way to Cub Foods, patrons of the bar attacked them with transphobic and racist slurs and bashed Ms. McDonald’s face with a glass beer mug, puncturing her cheek all the way through and lacerating her salivary gland. Although Ms. McDonald was the target of a hate crime; she was singled out and charged with second degree murder after one of the attackers died as a result of injuries sustained in the ensuing fight.

Supporters will continue to spread the word about the injustice McDonald is suffering in the legal system and demand that Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman drop the charges against her. Visit http://supportcece.wordpress.com or email mpls4cece@gmail.com for more information.

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