TDoR 2003 / 2003 / August / 16 / Bella Evangelista

Bella Evangelista

Age 25

16 Aug 2003
Washington, D.C. (USA)

TDoR list ref: Aug 2003/Bella Evangelista

Bella Evangelista
Bella Evangelista [photo:]

Bella was shot by Antoine Jacobs after he discovered that she was transgender.

Born in Guatemala in 1978, transgender performer, Bella Evangelista immigrated to the United States settling in Washington D.C. She, at the time of her death, had been transitioning from male-to-female for nine years; preferring: mini-skirts, high-heels, and heavy makeup, anything to resemble her icon, Jennifer Lopez. Evangelista, a popular performer at many of Washington D.C.'s area bars and nightclubs was loved by many, known for her impersonation of Gloria Estefan, which also helped her win many talent contests.

Off stage was a total polar opposite for Bella. Despite being passable as female, she still had trouble finding a regular job; facing discrimination from potential employers possibly over her identification information not matching her physical appearance; as it's often many "hoops to go through" and a financial burden to legally change your name and gender marker. Like other transsexuals who face employment discrimination, Bella turned to street prostitution to earn a living. According to friend, Ruby Bracamonte, Evangelista and many other trans women who do sex work don't find it difficult to disclose their gender identity to clients.

I point this out because Bella was murdered by a man on August 16, 2003 after one of his friends told him that Bella was born male. A "macho" man, her killer, Antoine Jacobs probably felt embarrassed that another heterosexual man knew he preferred feminine trans women in addition to biological females and with "something to prove", he went after Bella to kill her, to maintain his masculine image. This was done, as so often in the heterosexual community, they (men) believe that trans women are just "extremely gay men" and that even a passable trans woman is still a man, making someone attracted to them gay-doesn't make sense does it?

Most likely after bragging to a friend that he (Antoine) just had sex; saying where and with who, the other friend pointed out Bella was male; probably taunting Jacobs for hooking up with a transgender woman. Instead of assaulting his friend, he went after Bella; locating her on Allison Street and Arkansas NW. He originally told police that he confronted Evangelista in regards to her gender and "fearing assault" from Bella, he shot her in retaliation. Investigators didn't buy it; charging him with first-degree murder since he brought the gun with him after borrowing it from a friend, showing he planned the murder. Evangelista even offered to give the twenty dollars she was paid by Antoine back, but he refused, only wanting to know her gender.

I imagine Bella told him that she was born male but lives her life as a transgender woman. Jacobs shot her three times after hearing this, with nearby police on patrol hearing the gunfire and rushing to the scene. They saw Antoine fleeing the scene on a bicycle; chasing him by car then on foot through a baseball field, where Jacobs tried ditching the murder weapon. He was unsuccessful; ultimately being caught by police.

The crime was charged as a hate crime; carrying a life sentence if convicted; however in 2005 Antoine pled guilty to second-degree murder; facing a sentence of between twelve to twenty-four years with a maximum of forty years. On December 16 of that year Antoine was sentenced to sixteen years and eight months followed by five years of supervised probation.

On 16th December 2005 Jacobs was sentenced to sixteen years and eight months followed by five years of supervised probation for the crime of second-degree murder.

In December 2020, Washington D.C. passed legislation to ban the so-called “gay panic” defence (which Jacobs had tried to use) in the state.

Washington D.C. has passed legislation that would ban the so-called “gay panic” defense meant to excuse a violent response to being propositioned by someone of the same sex.

The dubious and homophobic defense has been used for decades to excuse violence against LGBTQ people.

Defense attorneys have also argued the same theory when it comes to crimes against transgender people, saying that when their clients discovered their sexual partner was transgender, they panicked or flew into a rage and couldn’t be held accountable for their actions.

While the self-defense ploy was commonly accepted for decades, some states have started passing bans on the tactic and even in states where there isn’t a ban, the defense has been disallowed by judges.

D.C.’s bill is named after Bella Evangelista and Tony Hunter, a trans woman and a gay man, who were killed by perpetrators who attempted to claim they panicked. Evangelista was shot and killed by her lover, who claimed he didn’t realize she was transgender. Hunter was beaten to death as he walked down the street by a man who claimed Hunter had touched him “in a suggestive way” as they passed each other.

Both criminals tried to paint themselves as the victim, instead of the person they killed.

Report added: 10 Dec 2018. Last updated: 28 Feb 2021

Trigger warning

This site contains reports of violence against transgender people, and links to detailed reports which contain graphic imagery.

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