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A transgender Western Pennsylvania teen was killed and dismembered. Advocates say it’s a hate crime.

Internashonal

A transgender Western Pennsylvania teen was killed and dismembered. Advocates say it’s a hate crime.


SHARON, Pa. (KDKA) — People in Mercer County are calling for the killing and dismembering of a transgender teenager to be prosecuted as a hate crime.

“To have something like that happen in your own backyard is pretty scary,” said Pamela Ladner, president of the LGBTQIA+ Alliance Shenango Valley.

Pauly Likens, 14, identified as a transgender girl, and her death has shaken the Mercer County community to its core. DaShawn Watkins, 29, is accused of killing and dismembering Likens after meeting on a dating app.

“Mom definitely thinks it’s a hate crime. She would love to see it prosecuted as a hate crime,” Ladner said.

Mercer County District Attorney Peter Acker said Watkins identified as being gay and admitted to having sex with Likens. Acker said Pennsylvania State Police do not believe this is a hate crime because the defendant is openly gay and the victim was transitioning.

However, Acker said it’s still early in the investigation and anything can happen. Ethnic intimidation, which is a hate crime in Pennsylvania, could be added if the evidence supports it.

“Not all LGBTQI members feel this way, but I do know that some people in the LGBTQI sector, trans people in particular, do feel like they get alienated from the rest of the community. So, I do think it’s possible for people who are in the community to have a dislike for gender-diverse people,” said Ladner.

Governor Josh Shapiro showed his support to the Likens family. He posted to X and said in part, “It’s past time to strengthen Pennsylvania’s laws to treat hate-based crimes against LGBTQ+ folks the same way other hate crimes are treated. Send the bill to my desk and I will sign it.”

A vigil for Likens is scheduled for Saturday at 7 p.m. outside of the LGBTQIA+ Alliance Shenango Valley.



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