Justice for Ky Peterson! Black transgender man sentenced to 20 years in prison for defending himself against sexual assault

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and the State Board of Pardons & Paroles - Pardon & Release Ky Peterson Now!

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We demand justice for Ky Peterson, a Black transgender man incarcerated in Georgia for defending himself against transphobic sexual violence. We call upon Governor Nathan Deal and the State Board of Pardons & Paroles to pardon and release Ky Peterson now!

Ky Peterson grew up in a small South Georgia farming town. Though Ky struggled for acceptance as a transgender man, he had the love of his family. Ky worked hard to support his mom and three younger siblings, and volunteered at an assisted living home and the American Red Cross in his free time.

On October 28, 2011, the life that Ky Peterson knew came to an end. Ky and his younger brothers walked to a neighborhood convenience store. After making his purchase, he waited outside for them. Ky was approached by a man who made sexual advances toward him. When Ky asked the man to leave him alone, the man uttered derogatory insults as he drove away. Ky told his brothers that he was walking home first, leaving them to follow. As he passed an abandoned trailer, the same man who had approached Ky earlier attacked him from behind. He dragged Ky into the abandoned trailer and sexually assaulted him. Ky fought back in self-defense, which ultimately led to his attacker’s death.

Ky's brothers were walking past the trailer when they heard the attack. As Ky was injured and in shock, the boys panicked and attempted to cover up the incident. The following day, when police came to question them, Ky told them about the attack. The police arrested all of them, charging them with armed robbery and first-degree murder, and threatened to charge the teens as adults.

When it became apparent that Ky was injured, the police took him to a local medical center where he was tested with a rape kit. The nurse who performed the examination confirmed that Ky had been brutally raped; yet she felt the need to point out that Ky “didn't act like a woman who had been raped.”

After Ky was examined, the police returned him to Sumter County jail where he sat for nearly a year with no word about his case. Ky should have had a Victim Advocate and received treatment for his physical and emotional injuries. Instead, Sumter County left a rape victim to rot in jail because he doesn’t present as a woman and wasn’t perceived as a victim as a trans man.

Ky’s rape kit came back positive, confirming his recent sexual assault. An autopsy performed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation confirmed that Ky's DNA was found on the dead man's genitals. This exculpatory evidence, which proves Ky’s innocence, was ignored. Ky should have been protected under Georgia’s Stand Your Ground Law, but instead he continues to be punished for defending his own life.

When asked by The Advocate why Ky was not permitted to plead self-defense, Ky's public defender recounted telling him, "Number One, you're African-American.” He continued that Ky appeared “stereotypically gay,” arguing against a Stand Your Ground defense because “that's two strikes against us from the get-go.” Eventually, the county reduced Ky’s charge to involuntary manslaughter, offering a plea “bargain” of 20 years -- a sentence 10 years longer than Georgia law mandates. Like many caught in the Georgia legal system, Ky was bullied into signing this plea “deal.” Ky was criminalized by the racism of his public defender, transphobic treatment from the hospital, the unlawful sentence, and countless negligent actions of Sumter County, including prosecutorial misconduct, selective prosecution and ineffective counsel.

Ky has suffered tremendous injustices due to racial and gender biases. We ask Governor Nathan Deal and the State Board of Pardons & Paroles to pardon and release Kyle Peterson, who continues to suffer dehumanizing treatment from prison staff for being openly transgender. Over the last year, Ky has publicly shared his story to help raise awareness and visibility for the victims of transphobic sexual violence. With the help of our friends in the media, and organizations like  Get EQUAL , Survived And Punished, Black & Pink,  SNaP Co., and Southerners on New Ground,  we are thankful to have gained supporters across the globe. If he is pardoned and released, Ky hopes to build a future in trans advocacy by continuing to share his story and fighting for victims’ rights.  

For more ways to help Ky, you can donate to his legal fund here:  Funding Freedom

Sincerely,

Ky Peterson Defense Committee

Ky Peterson  Defense Committee
Petition by
Americus, Georgia, Georgia
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To: Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and the State Board of Pardons & Paroles - Pardon & Release Ky Peterson Now!
From: [Your Name]

The Honorable Nathan Deal
Governor of Georgia
100 Capitol Ave SW #100
Atlanta, GA 30334

The State Board of Pardons & Paroles
2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive SE
Suite 458, Balcony Level, East Tower
Atlanta, Georgia 30334-4909

Re: Executive Pardon of Ky (Kenyota) Peterson

Dear Governor Deal & Board Members,

I write you to plead for justice for Kyle (Kenyota) Peterson (#100961001). Kyle is a Black transgender man incarcerated in Georgia’s Pulaski State Prison for defending himself against transphobic sexual violence. We call upon you, as Governor and as members of the State Board of Pardons & Paroles, to remedy this gross miscarriage of justice and to pardon and release Kyle Peterson immediately.

On October 28, 2011, Kyle was attacked by a stranger who sexually assaulted him. Kyle fought back in self-defense, which unfortunately led to his attacker’s death. Kyle’s rape kit came back positive and an autopsy performed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation confirmed that Ky's DNA was found on his attacker’s genitals. An investigation into Kyle’s attacker revealed that just a year before, the man was arrested in Baltimore on charges of second-degree assault, possession of a dangerous weapon with intent to injure and resisting or interfering with arrest. This exculpatory evidence, which proves Kyle’s innocence, was ignored by his prosecution and misused by his defense.

After Kyle was examined, the police returned him to Sumter County jail where he sat for nearly a year with no word about his case. Kyle should have had a Victim Advocate and received treatment for the physical and emotional injuries from his attack.

The county realized that Kyle was a victim and reduced his charge to involuntary manslaughter, offering him a plea “bargain” of 20 years with 15 years to serve. However, according to Georgia State Code O.C.G.A. § 16-5-3 (a): “…A person who commits the offense of involuntary manslaughter in the commission of an unlawful act, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one year nor more than ten years.”

Like many people caught unaware in the legal system, Ky was bullied into signing this plea “deal.” Ky was criminalized by racist statements made by his public defender, by transphobic medical treatment during his rape kit exam, by his unlawful sentence, and by countless other negligent actions of Sumter County, including:

- Prosecutorial Misconduct (intimidation and racial and gender profiling)
- Selective Prosecution in violation of the 14th Amendment
- Ineffective Counsel in violation of the 6th Amendment “Right to Assistive Counsel” when he was denied the right to plead self defense

Kyle should have been protected under Georgia’s Stand Your Ground Law, but instead he continues to be punished for defending his own life.

We urge you to consider this important matter and to grant Kyle Peterson the justice he deserves.

Sincerest Regards,
The Ky Peterson Defense Committee
Atlanta, Ga