Joshua Brandon Vallum, 29, of Lucedale, Mississippi, pleaded guilty today to a federal hate crime for assaulting and murdering Mercedes Williamson because she was a transgender woman. Williamson, born Michael Wilkins, was 17 years old and resided in Alabama at the time of her death. Vallum was charged with violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.


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