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Man charged with murder in strangling death of O.C. transgender activist

Man charged with murder in strangling death of O.C. transgender activist
Zoraida "Ale" Reyes, 28, leads a rally at a May 27 protest in Santa Ana. (Courtesy of Hairo Cortes)

A 38-year-old man was charged Thursday with strangling a transgender activist and dumping her body behind an Anaheim restaurant.

Randy Lee Parkerson of Anaheim was formally charged with one felony count of murder. He was arrested in connection with the death of 28-year-old Zoraida Reyes.

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Orange County prosecutors didn't offer a motivation for the killing.

Investigators said they believe Parkerson met with Reyes on June 10, strangled her, and placed her body in the trunk of his car before dumping it in a Dairy Queen parking lot in Anaheim.

Anaheim detectives said the investigation didn't uncover evidence that Reyes was specifically targeted, and that the homicide was not investigated as a hate crime.

But Reyes' friends said they are unconvinced.

Jorge Gutierrez, an LGBT and immigrant rights organizer, said he believes Reyes' gender identity contributed to her being targeted and killed. Transgender advocates say the community has a heightened risk of violence and harassment.
"For many, the lives of transgender people don't matter and they're viewed as disposable," Gutierrez told The Times. "We know that her identity as a trans woman was a huge factor, whether the police want to acknowledge it or not."

Authorities found Reyes' body on June 12 in the 200 block of North State College Boulevard.

Reyes was born in Michoacan, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States. She was a graduate of Century High School in Santa Ana and received an associate degree from Santa Ana College.

She attended UC Santa Barbara but moved back to Santa Ana about three years ago and was living with family when she died. Reyes was a member of several transgender and immigrant rights advocacy groups in Orange County.

If convicted, Parkerson faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison. He is being held on $1-million bail.

He is expected to be arraigned Oct. 31.

For breaking news, follow @AdolfoFlores3.

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