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Man pleads guilty to transgender murder

Tyrell Jackson was killed in 2012.  WPEC.
Tyrell Jackson was killed in 2012. WPEC.
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The family of a transgender man, shot and killed in 2012, achieved justice in court on Wednesday.

The killer, Luis Rijo de los Santos, took a plea deal, requiring him to spend the next 15 years in prison.

Prosecutors once sought the death penalty for Rijo de los Santos, who was charged with killing Tyrell Jackson, and shooting two other transgender men, on a single night in 2012.

Rijo de los Santos offered Jackson and his friend, Michael Hunter, a ride.

When Rijo de los Santos went on trial in June 2015, Hunter testified he and Jackson lived a transgender lifestyle, dressing as women.

At a convenience store in Riviera Beach, Rijo de los Santos started shooting at the men.

Later the same night, prosecutors say Rijo de los Santos picked up and shot at a third transgender man.

Rijo de los Santos claimed during the trial, he shot all three men in self-defense, because they attacked him.

Jurors deliberated seven days, before acquitting Rijo de los Santos on two less serious counts, and winding up hung on the most serious charges.

Under the deal approved by the judge Wednesday, Rijo de los Santos pleads guilty to lesser charges of second degree murder and attempted second degree murder.

Members of Jackson’s family addressed the judge, officially approving the plea deal, but expressing the hurt of never seeing their loved one again.

“In 15 years, (Rijo de los Santos) will be out, he will be with his family,” said Jackson’s aunt, Vonda Kay Glee, breaking into tears.

“We don’t have Tyrell here no more,” cried Glee. “And it’s wrong, it is so wrong.”

“I miss Tyrell so much,” said the victim’s mother, Wanda Jackson-Chavers. “Not a day or night I don’t think of him.”

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