Orlando – The man responsible for the murder of Ashley Sinclair, a popular local performer, has been found guilty of manslaughter. A jury delivered Kent Louis’ verdict Dec. 12.
Sinclair,who was also known as Mohagany Shylanda Singleton, was shot and killed in April 2013.The 30-year-old transgender woman’s body was found in a wooded area off of Nimrod Lane early in the morningon April 4, 2013.
Orange County deputies responded to a call of shots fired, and a witness said he saw a black car pull away.
There was an eight-month investigation to track down Sinclair’s killer and also to determine if Sinclair was murdered because she was transgender. Louis, 22, was finally arrested eight months after the incident on a first-degree murder charge. Louis and Sinclair were acquaintances, but a motive for the shooting was not released.
Darcel Stevens, entertainment director for the Parliament House, and other friends of Sinclair filled the courtroom to hear Louis’ verdict. Stevens, who performs in drag, said he’s been friends with Sinclair for 12 or 13 years. He called their group “a sisterhood” and said “when something happens to one of us it affects us all.”
“Most of the entertainers aren’t drag queens like myself who live as a man and perform professionally as a female,” Stevens said. “Most are transsexual and live their truth. They aren’t 5’4” and don’t blend in easily. We stick together very tightly because there are people out there who don’t care very much for what we do and who we represent.”
Stevens complimented the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, stating that they kept on top of the long investigation.
Many of Sinclair’s friends and family took to the victim’s Facebook page to express dissatisfaction in the verdict and concern that Sinclair did not receive justice because of her race or because she was transgender.
“Going from first degree [murder] to manslaughter is unfathomable whether they had the weapon or not,” posted Tyjah Khan, a friend of Sinclair’s, to Sinclair’s Facebook page after the verdict became public. “If Ashley was a white transwoman I’m sure the verdict would have been first degree no questions!”
Others expressed relief, stating that justice was served. Stevens noted that he’d have rather seen a murder one conviction but “I understand it would have been difficult to prove the intent.”
Sentencing for Louis is set for Dec. 18. Stevens said he and his friends plan to be in court for that, too.