On September 29th 2012 Charles Jameson Neel murdered transgender woman January Marie Lapuz stabbing her 18 times in her New Westminster home.
Charles Jameson Neel sentenced to just 8 years for this horrific crime served only 5, but he is back in jail for violating probation.
Much to the horror of the trans community Charles Jameson Neel received an 8-year sentence just one more than the mandatory 7 and far less the maximum, life in prison. Sentenced in 2014, paroled in June 2019 Neel only served 5 years for this hate crime. Charles Jameson Neel was paroled in June but he violated the conditions of his release according to Vancouver Sun and is back behind bars.
It is unknown if Charles Jameson Neel will servee the remainder of his sentence.
For January Marie Lapuz, one of the shining lights of Vancouver’s transgender community justice has not been done.
Leada Stray told Planet Trans in a statement,
When we first gathered to mourn the murder of January Marie Lapuz, to fight for justice, and to speak out against the disrespect leveled against transgender women of color by the state and civilian population, we had hope that justice would be done. But instead, here we are only 6 short years later confronted by a man who shows no remorse, no change in behaviour. No respect for human life. We told the world then we wanted justice and we hoped for some meaning. Instead, we are left with reopened wounds, rekindled anger and the same burning question as before. “How could “justice” allow this?”
“What happened to January was a tragedy. She was taken from her community, her friends, her family,” said her friend Alex Sangha.
Neel’s lawyers argued the attack was not a hate crime, but Sangha, a clinical counsellor, doesn’t believe it. Sangha told the Vancouver Sun he was “very, very disturbed” by the short prison sentence and that the killing was not treated as a hate crime.
For Sangha, “justice for January” will come through remembering who she was as a person, and continuing her legacy of community involvement: “I don’t want the killing to be the main story. Her life was meaningful.”
To that end, Sangha has produced My Name was January, a 25-minute documentary to remember her and explore how her murder affected the community. The documentary has won 13 international awards and been selected at 56 film festivals around the world.
With SHER, Sangha is also involved in the January Marie Lapuz Youth Leadership Award. Nominations are now open for youth between 16 and 30 years old, and who have demonstrated involvement, commitment and leadership in the LGBTQ community.
In its decision to revoke Neel’s statutory release, the parole board wrote that Neel had little regard for the conditions of his release, had been intoxicated, engaged in sexual activity without reporting, that a knife had been found in his room, and that he is considered a flight risk.