No Death Penalty in Transgender Murder Case

District Attorney George Gascón will not pursue the death penalty against a man accused of raping and murdering a transgendered woman

By Chris Roberts
|  Tuesday, Aug 16, 2011  |  Updated 3:20 PM PDT
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No Death Penalty in Transgender Murder Case

Getty Images/TDCJ

In a test of District Attorney George Gascon's appetite for the death penalty, the man accused of raping and murdering a transgender woman in 2007 will not face the death penalty, according to prosecutors.

DNA samples linked Donzell Francis, 42, to the murder of Ruby Rodriguez, who was found dead on a Potrero Hill sidewalk on March 16, 2007, according to the San Francisco Examiner. The DNA was untested for two years before they linked Francis to the killing, the newspaper reported.

Francis, who was in custody for another sexual assault in 2009, was only tested then because of a severe backlog in the testing lab, according to police. He was convicted last year of sexually assaulting, beating and robbing a transgender prostitute in the Tenderloin in September 2007 and sentenced to 18 years in prison. Prosecutors have charged him with another nonfatal attack on a transgender prostitute and the strangling death of Rodriguez.

Francis has not been charged with hate crimes, either, according to the newspaper.

Gascon has been on record as a supporter of the death penalty, but has not pursued it as San Francisco's top prosecutor. He has said he would only pursue capital punishment in "very heinous" cases.

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