Krisinda Bright did a terrible thing when she murdered her two young adult children, both of whom were trans BIPOC.
No one denies that, not even her. Killing your own children is the worst conceivable crime.
But no one has shown that she herself deserves to die (now off the table thanks to a plea deal) nor how her execution would protect society or more specifically the lives of BIPOC trans youth in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
Juan Carter Hernandez also did a terrible thing, a few miles away in the same week.
He killed a Latina trans woman he was dating in front of her temporary home in New Wilmington, temporary because she was in Pennsylvania as a healthcare provider in a nursing home.
Police arrived to find Hernandez beating Carrillo with a blunt object. They ordered him to stop but said Hernandez ignored them and continued beating her. The officer, whose name has not been released, fired his weapon and killed Hernandez at the scene.
Chyna died at a local hospital.
In 2011, Hernandez killed his 20-year-old wife, Kandace Johnston, inside their home in North Carolina. He claimed self-defense, but in 2014 agreed to plead guilty to 2nd degree murder. He was sentenced to 8-10 years. Why does no one know how much time he actually served? I bet he did, down to the hour. I’m assuming he was given credit for time served and released in 2020? It sure seems like something a major media outlet would consider exploring. Hernandez was also accused of assaulting a federal employee AND deserting his military post.
He served about 6-8 years for all of those things.
He was set free and moved back to Campbell, Ohio where he killed another woman in a brutal, vicious attack.
If Juan Carter Hernandez had been held to the same standard as Krisinda Bright for killing his 20-year-old wife, he would still be in jail and Chyna Carillo would still be alive.
Let’s start with Beaver County, a region that went from zero reported murders of trans folx ever to three in one year.
Krisinda is serving two life-sentences, one for each of her children. Why didn’t Kandace’s life warrant a similar penalty in the North Carolina courts?
Each time the Beaver County District Attorney David J. Lozier preened in front of the cameras, figuratively banging his hand on the table and insisting he would execute Krisinda in the name of the state, I wondered how that would help a single trans person. We know the death penalty doesn’t deter murderers. Executing Krisinda wouldn’t bring back her kids, it wouldn’t secure more mental health funding for veterans living with PTSD in her rural community, it wouldn’t bring trans affirming funding to her hometown, it wouldn’t change the legacy of racial injustice for her multiracial extended family.
In fact, what DID happen in Beaver County is that a third young Black trans woman was murdered in November. Her name was Angel Naira. She was murdered in her Aliquippa apartment. There has been no police statement on the progress of that investigation. Krisinda waited for the police to arrive at her home and turned over her weapon. The person who robbed and violently killed Angel is on the loose. Where’s the threat to the community?
Perhaps if Beaver County were more concerned about creating a safe community for all trans folx, especially young trans folx of color, they could acknowledge that going from zero to three murders in less than one year is a serious problem. Instead the legislator in the adjacent State House district wants to ban trans kids from participating in athletics. Well, that’s one way to respond to murder, I suppose?
But it is not just Beaver County, clearly. The United States has documented 50 murders of trans folx this year, the most in recorded history. And the year isn’t over yet.
Living here in Southwestern Pennsylvania, I’ve had a front row seat to the almost gleeful lust for the blood of Krisinda Bright and all I feel is deep sadness and sorrow. For her. For her children, Jasmine and JJ. For their surviving relatives. And for the trans folx living in Beaver County who know very well this bloodthirsty vengeance quest has zero to do with the realities of Jasmyn and JJ being BIPOC trans and nonbinary individuals living in a rural community in a Trumpian utopia. It is punishing a woman who committed a sin. Not just a crime, but a sin.
There’s no been much word about Krisinda’s life or her family or the children’s other family members. The news cycle ended, I guess. Most current reports don’t even mention Jasmine and JJ’s identities. And before you leap on me to say their mother didn’t kill them for being in the trans community, you don’t actually know how their identity impact their family life. Because the media isn’t investigating that. Or the stories of other trans BIPOC in the region.
Like Angel Naira. Why is her death as a BIPOC trans woman less worthy of 100 million news stories?
It is this inequity in the media that adds to the trauma and pain for the entire community. Four young trans BIPOC are dead in Southwestern Pennsylvania. That should be front page news all of that time, especially given the horrific experiences and discrimination Admiral Rachel Levine MD who is from Pennsylvania has endured as she protects us from COVID-19 and other public health threats. Especially given the transphobic legislation in the Pennsylvania house and the just disgusting rhetoric that permeates our community.
Angel Naira’s death is a classic example. She was dead-named, misgendered, and almost erased from the narrative.
The issue is that we parse justice based on the value of the victims and the magnitude of the sins. There’s nothing fair or decent about the death penalty in my opinion, but I do believe that Juan Carter Hernandez should have been incarcerated much, much longer. Obviously, he didn’t reform or repent. He butchered another woman to death, continuing his attack even while being shot by responding police. JFC.
And nothing from the media. No inquiry, no investigation into why North Carolina didn’t do their job protecting the public – protecting Chyna – from this awful murderous person. Why there’s no justice in any of this.
We all know that if these were white victims, white women in particular, white chis women especially – the narrative would be different.
I wish I could point you to an organization or cause on the ground in Beaver County or Lawrence County that is serving the trans community or serving BIPOC or certainly serving BIPOC trans folx. But I cannot. There is nothing. Nothing has come from these terrible deaths except more bloodthirsty to kill another person, Krisinda Bright. As if more death, more violence, this time by the Commonwealth, could accomplish anything.
It has been on my heart for awhile that there should be a way to say their names – Chyna, Jasmine, JJ, and Angel – in their communities. I think about the bench we created in a local park to honor the life and death of Andre Gray, a young Black bisexual man who was also violently murdered here in Pittsburgh in 2014. and I keep thinking about creating benches for these four folx. But who to ask? With Andre, his family was right there wanting desperately to honor him. Chyna’s family is in another state, I can’t ask the Bright family, and I don’t know Angel’s family. There’s no organization to ask, no community leaders.
And it is not my place to establish their memorials or any memorials. It isn’t about me or my feelings. But I can say their names here and I can speak up for Krisinda and Kandace and all of the people who have been failed by a justice system grounded in white supremacy, a media industry that has lost its soul, and neighbors who don’t fucking care.
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