Skip to comments.Victim of hate crime led 2 lives, friends say
Posted on 05/01/2002 7:12:53 PM PDT by FITZ
Before he was shot in the back and left to die near a convenience store, Hector Arturo Diaz led two lives.
At home in Sunland Park, he was the baby boy of a hard-working mother, the sibling of nine brothers and sisters. At night, the 28-year-old man dressed in women's clothing and became "Arlene," a fixture of the gay scene in Downtown El Paso.
April 10, when a passer-by found his body on Anapra Road, shock and sorrow united his two worlds.
"I am shattered," his mother, Rosa Diaz, said last week, in tears.
"You have children. You raise them. You see them grow and someone kills them. He didn't deserve this. There is no reason for this."
Police believe the killing was motivated by prejudice over Diaz's sexual orientation.
Police declined to comment further, but a police report indicates they obtained an incriminating statement from the alleged killer, Justen Grant Hall, 20, of the 8500 block of Lakehurst.
Hall was charged with murder April 22, and police subsequently announced that the case was being classified as a hate crime.
The law describes a "hate crime" as an offense committed "because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender or disability" of the victim.
In El Paso, members of the Anti-Violence Project of Lambda, a national gay advocacy group, say hate crimes are underreported to authorities.
Project volunteers monitor anti-gay violence through victims' calls to a hot line. In 2001 they received testimonies of 117 bias-motivated incidents involving 172 victims. The tally includes 42 reported assaults, 85 cases of harassment and 16 cases of vandalism, the project volunteers said. The number of anti-gay incidents remained constant between 2000 and 2001, volunteers said.
In 2000, police data show, there were nine hate crimes in El Paso and none were believed to have been committed over sexual orientation.
Project coordinator Rob Knight said such acts and the killing of Diaz are "spawned by bigotry and hate."
"No one should live in fear or lose their life simply for being who they are," Knight said.
Diaz had left Gadsden High School in Anthony, N.M., in the 11th grade and obtained his GED from UTEP. He studied at a technical school and got a job filing records at Sierra Medical Center, his family said.
He lived with his mother, a hotel housekeeper, and three sisters at their mother's house on Yucca Street in Sunland Park.
There, he shared a bedroom with his grandfather until the elderly man died two years ago. Stuffed animals and a fleet of small helium balloons still line his shelves. His Bible lies open, its pages held down by a bookmark that reads, "Be Happy, Share A Smile!"
He liked going to the movies and eating Chinese food.
"He was very funny," his sister Rosemary Porras said.
Funny, outspoken and friendly also is how Diaz's friends described him. But they knew him as "Arlene," almost unrecognizable in female clothing, with a made-up face, save for the dimples in his cheeks and chin.
Diaz was what the gay community calls "transgender," someone who feels trapped in a body of the wrong sex.
To respect Diaz's wishes, friends Sascha Adams and Dan Nicotera refer to Diaz as "she."
"She would go to work in male clothing and dressed as a boy at home. She respected her family's wish not to see her like that," said Adams, a soft-spoken transgender person, sitting in a corner of the Lambda Community Center on Ochoa Street.
Before cruising the clubs, Diaz would get ready at the Planned Parenthood's Desert Rainbow Center on Montana Avenue. At the end of the night, Diaz would change again on the way home.
"She'd wake up as a boy," Adams said. "She used to say as soon as she got her own apartment, she'd be a girl 24-7."
Diaz's family knew. Their baby boy had come out many years ago. But the mere mention of the name "Arlene" causes Rosa Diaz to tense up.
"It's Hector. That's the name he was born under," she said.
Diaz was buried in a man's suit.
However complicated life was getting, Diaz was happy.
"She loved her mother and sisters," Adams said. "There was one sister in particular with whom they talked about everything. She would always mention them. That's all she ever talked about -- how happy she was at home."
Diaz's alleged killer had been hanging around the gay bar scene for some time, but several members of the gay community said Hall is not claimed as one of their own. With his bony face, he looked a good 10 years older than he was. He drove a dark GMC Yukon pickup, police reports read.
"Supposedly, he was a real nice guy," Nicotera said.
Few people knew Hall had been incarcerated from April 2000 to November 2001 on two charges of burglary and one of auto theft.
On the last night of his life, Diaz had gone to the Desert Rainbow Center for a transgender support group meeting. He put on his favorite outfit, a fuzzy black woman's sweater, black pants and fashionable boots. He fixed his long, black hair and applied makeup. The group watched a movie, and Diaz, Adams, Nicotera and others went to Sergio's Bar on Missouri Avenue. Diaz disappeared about 10:30 p.m.
Police did not disclose the relationship between Diaz and Hall, but friends said they were not dating. A witness saw the two early the next morning, a police report says. They appeared to be arguing. It was shortly before police reports allege Hall shot Diaz in the back.
On April 20, Hall was arrested at the Gas Light Square trailer park at 500 Talbot in Canutillo for illegally carrying a loaded Bryco Arms 9 mm handgun. Hall was out on bond when he was arrested two days later and charged with Diaz's murder. Hall remained jailed Tuesday in lieu of $75,000 bond, authorities said.
He says those murders that show an uncommon amount of creative personal hatred (i.e. - deep stabs to face, genital mutilation, etc) are invariably committed by gay guys against other gay guys.
Usually it's cuz one dumps the other.
Course, local media will not touch hot stories like this, even with a 10-foot barge pole...
I guess that settles it, looks old, drives an out of favor pick-up (not a Dodge Ram?) and they've disowned him or her...
Obviously a hate crime by someone who'd been laying about looking for someone to hate crime on.
That, or an aging pansy with a weapon.
How many straight men would be hanging around the gay bar scene for some time? This looks like a gay on gay killing ---but maybe they need to boost the numbers of hate crimes or something.
That's what it seems this was. I don't think the guy should have been murdered but it's strange that just because a man wearing a dress was murdered, it must be turned into a hate crime.
A predator. But just phone in your solution to the police. I don't think they need to investigate when you have all the answers already.
However, such a murder is horrifying. Such a murderer should receive the full punitive force of the law.
Planned Parenthood supports this crap????? How is providing a haven for boys who want to dress like girls and hunt out other males for same sex adventures related PLANNED PARENTHOOD?
It might be that he found out his girlfriend wasn't. Something in his statement gave the police the impression it was a hate crime.
Maybe a gay predator. I doubt most heterosexual guys really care to spend much time in gay bars and it seems like years is kind of long to find a victim, probably most 'straight' murderers of gays are latent homosexuals. All murders involve hate anyway.
Leviticus 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.