Monday marked the start of the murder trial for the man charged in the killing of 26-year-old Chynal Lindsey, a Black trans woman whose body was pulled out of White Rock Lake in Dallas, Texas, on June 1, 2019. Lindsey’s body was found in the lake appearing to have been strangled with multiple objects and badly beaten. Police said her corpse showed “obvious signs of homicidal violence.” Prosecutors told jurors that what her accused killer, 24-year-old Ruben Alvarado, had done to her was overkill.
“This case is not about her choice to live as a female,” lead prosecutor Melody Louis said during opening statements, according to the Dallas Morning News. “This is about a human life.”
It’s unfortunate that even needed to be said. The idea that there could even be a case based on “her choice to live as a female” because there are still so many people in the world who would view that as a crime worthy of punishment reminds us that societal acceptance of gender fluidity is still an uphill battle.
In fact, for a picture-perfect example of people being unwilling to respect the identities and preferred pronouns of trans and non-binary people, let alone their lives, look no further than defense attorney Richard Franklin, who, according to the Morning News, referred to Lindsey as a male on the first day of trial. Seriously, how out of touch and transphobic must a person be to intentionally misgender the victim of a brutal killing while defending the person accused of said killing?
The defense opted not to make any opening statements before the prosecution began calling witnesses, which included Calvin Torrence, the man who discovered Lindsey’s body while visiting the lake with his two small children.
The jury was shown footage of Lindsey’s body being pulled from the lake with a belt wrapped around her neck as well as an autopsy report that found she died of strangulation and blunt force injury to the head, and that she tested positive for methamphetamine and amphetamine.
Louis told the jury that Lindsey and Alvarado had communicated several times before her death and that one of the last times they were together was when Alvarado picked Lindsey up and brought her back to his apartment. The prosecution presented call logs to the jury that showed the two had begun exchanging messages and calls on May 5, 2019, and that the last call Alvarado made to Lindsey, which lasted about 40 seconds, took place just after midnight on the date her body was pulled from the lake.
“Greg Gambrell, a digital media specialist, compiled cell phone location data during the investigation and found that Alvarado and Lindsey’s phones were near each other in the early hours of June 1 and around White Rock Lake,” the Morning News reported. The defense argued that the cell phone data only proved the two were near each other, not that they were together.
Dallas police Detective Erica King said in court that surveillance footage taken from cameras posted at several intersections in Dallas showed Lindsey was traveling in a red Ford Explorer that had belonged to Alvarado, who was arrested on June 20, 2019.
If convicted, Alvarado could face life in prison.