Man is sentenced for stabbing transgender woman to death and setting their apartment on fire

A Van Nuys man was sent to prison Thursday for fatally stabbing his live-in partner, a transgender woman, and torching their apartment.

Ezekiel Jamal Dear, 27, was convicted Oct. 19 of voluntary manslaughter and arson, according to Ricardo Santiago, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

Dear appeared in Van Nuys Courthouse, where a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge imposed a prison term of 12 years and 8 months for the Jan. 31, 2015, slaying of Yasmin Vash Payne. 

Dear stabbed Payne, 33, several times before setting the apartment ablaze, prosecutors said.

Firefighters responding to a call of a fire at the apartment complex in the 14600 block of Saticoy Street found Payne on the kitchen floor with multiple stab wounds to the torso. Paramedics pronounced Payne dead at the scene.

The next day, Dear walked into a South Los Angeles police station accompanied by a pastor and was interviewed by homicide detectives, LAPD Sgt. Neil Wank said. He was arrested and charged with murder.

The slaying was one of several acts of violence against transgender people in recent years and galvanized local activists to shut down traffic outside the Beverly Center in protest.

Transgender women — especially those of color, who suffer high levels of poverty — are more likely to be targeted by violence and harassment, according to several studies. Up to about half of all transgender people experience violence from an intimate partner over their lifetime, according to a review of research by the Williams Institute.

In 2014, Deshawnda "Ta-Ta" Sanchez, 21, was shot in Chesterfield Square. On a 911 call, she told a police dispatcher that she had been attacked and robbed. The phone went silent after gunshots were fired. Months earlier, Aniya Knee Parker, 47, was shot in East Hollywood after a struggle over her purse.

In March, Kourtney Yochum, 32, was fatally shot while walking along South San Pedro Street near skid row.

Daniel Molayem, a man who was dating Yochum, was later  charged with murder; his case is pending in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

matt.hamilton@latimes.com

Twitter: @MattHjourno.

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