My Reflections on the Matthew Shepard Bill & my own story of a 90s Transgender Murder in Boston…

“I heard a funny joke in a bar the other night….just not tonight”

The Story of Chanelle Pickett.

Here are my own reflections relating to the anti-hate bill that was passed today: The Matthew Shepard Bill. I’ve been thinking about my own life and the tragic events that I have had the displeasure of being used to in the past. You have no idea what I am talking about. Well, I will tell you about it: Somewhere in the late to middle of the 1990s when you were either in grade-school, high school, college, or getting an education, I was busy hanging out in the real alternative/punk world in Boston. On occasion I visited those unknown hipster bars in Allston within that scene. It was a sad, happy, and often troubling time for me. This was long before I was a troubled young man, but more so a troubled boy. Along the way I had a few moments that I would consider to be joyful or not so unhappy.

There was one bar I used to go at the time that had all sorts of hip, freakish, hip-hop, jazzheads, and punk customers. I was in none of these categories, and I was all of these categories. I was more of a misfit. So I always hung out with other misfits whether they looked like me, had a Mohawk etc. Every night I stopped by, there was one particular girl, transgender girl- Chanelle. She was always so very happy and funny. She was kind of a flirt with everyone myself included. We had an understanding, we were both kind of misfits and we generally just wound up at the punk bar for lack of better idea. We would exchange ideas, thoughts and more so we exchanged jokes- that was our thing-jokes at the bar. We weren’t best friends or nor did see each other outside the bar much at all, but we always had a funny, nice little joke exchange.

When I stopped seeing her at the bar, I didn’t think much of it. I thought, “Oh she met someone or she moved away or went off to college.” I never thought that she got murdered…until someone handed me an “In Memorium” flyer. Then I knew she was gone. It wasn’t like it was all over the news, not that I watched the news at the time. As a matter of fact hardly many people at all made a fuss about her death. “Another dead Trannie” one person might say. Not really. No life is ‘just another dead **** anything or anyone”.

If you feel so inclined and have a strong constitution, feel free to read what happened to her below….and then tell me that the Matthew Shepard Bill is not needed in this country:

I tell you this story not so you’ll read my blog or think I’m interesting, but so you know another story besides Matthew Shepard. I wasn’t a close friend to this person who died. As a matter of a fact I was like a close or distant acquaintance, but now that this bill has passed I can’t but think to myself this one really important thought and or idea I wish to convey to you ALL:

“There are one or a hundred less jokes being told in bars in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, and all over the world for that matter, on this night and on the many nights to come.”

We know that hate crimes, of course, have happened before and chances are they will will happen again….but since this bill has passed, there might just be more dire consequences for this crime, and the would-be criminals will have to listen. Do yourself a favor and the next time you are in a bar, tell a nearby stranger: black, white, gay, straight, or transsexual a joke…..and make it a good one.

Chanelle Pickett’s story is below this line:

The LGBT Hate Crimes Project

You are here: The LGBT Hate Crimes Project » Chanelle Pickett

Chanelle Pickett
Chanelle Pickett (1972 – November 20, 1995, an African American transgender woman, died on November 20, 1995, in Watertown, MA, at the home of William C. Palmer. Palmer claimed he defended himself against Pickett when she became angry after he discovered she was transgender and rejected her.

The Background

Chanelle Pickett

Pickett and her sister Gabrielle – also a transgender woman – were employed at NYNEX, in Brookline, MA, until she was allegedly fired for being transgender and for standing up to sexual harassment from her co-workers.1) Pickett was transferred to a different department, but the harassment continued and both Pickett and her sister were fired. Unable to find work and having exhausted saving accounts, both sisters turned to sex work in order to survive.2)

On November 19, Pickett, 23, and her twin sister met William C. Palmer, 35, at the Playland Cafe, a popular club with a large transgender clientele. Palmer was known to have frequented Playland, and several transgender women who patronized the club claimed to have had sexual encounters with him.3) The three of them left the club and went to the sister’s apartment, where they drank and used cocaine that Palmer, a computer programer for Unisys, had purchased at Playland earlier. After 90 minutes, Pickett and Palmer departed for his apartment in Watertown, MA. 4)

The Attack
Palmer testified in court that he and Pickett smoked crack cocaine at his apartment. Pickett began to give him oral sex, when he discovered she was transgender and demanded she leave the apartment. Palmer then claimed that Pickett became angry, screaming “God will never die” and “the devil is king,” and attacked him. Palmer said he “sat on” Pickett in order to “stabilize” her, but that she was still breathing when he released her.5) Palmer’s roommates heard Pickett’s screams coming from Palmer’s room as she was beaten.6)

The Aftermath

William C. Palmer

Palmer slept with Pickett’s body for six hours before turning himself in to a lawyer who then notified the police.7) In a taped statement to police, Palmer said that he put his hand over Pickett’s mouth and grabbed her throat, but Picket bit his finger and he he hit her with a “quick jab” to the jaw and “sat on her” for about 10 mintues.8)

Police found Pickett at Palmer’s residence, lying in a pool of blood. An autopsy showed that blood had accumulated in Pickett’s lungs and brain. Along with this evidence, hemorrhages on Pickett’s neck lead a medical examiner to conclude that Pickett had been strangled, and suffocated with a piece of cloth, for at least eight to ten minutes.

Investigators found a stain on Palmer’s jeans containing semen and saliva. Tests showed that the saliva could have been Palmer’s but the semen could not. The results were consistent with Picket ejaculating in Palmer’s mouth and Palmer then spitting out the ejaculate onto his jeans.9)

Trial, Conviction & Sentencing
On December 1, 1995, Palmer pleaded not guilty to Pickett’s murder, and was released on a $50,000 cash bond. The Middlesex district attorney requested that Palmer be held without bail. As a compromise, Palmer was required to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet, submit to random drug testing, meet with a probation officer each week, and avoid any witnesses in the case.10)

At trial, Dr. Stanley Kessler, a medical examiner, testified that Pickett had been throttled for at least eight minutes and that bedding may have been stuffed into her throat.11) Kessler testified that the cocaine levels in Pickett’s system were not enough to have caused her death. Kessler showed the jury photographs of a blood-smeared comforter that he said was puckered in one section, as though it had been “shoved down someone’s throat.” Kessler said that when he examined Pickett, blood was coming from her nose and mouth, which was consistent with strangulation.12)

On May 3, 1997, a jury acquitted Palmer of murder and instead found him guilty of assault and battery.13)

On May 16, 1997, Palmer was sentenced to two years in prison.14)

Everyone deserves a day all their own.

This if you don’t know already, is my dog. His name is Mr. Button although he has many nick names as well.

We gave him his own special day.

I am sorry not to blog so much lately-I have been very busy working on many new projects.

So far 2009 has been my most productive year yet.