Transgender Activist Found Shot to Death at Westside Home

Article excerpt

Byline: Alexa Jaworski, Times-Union staff writer

A Jacksonville activist in the transgender community was found shot to death late Wednesday on the Westside.

Terrianne Summers, 51, was found dead in the driveway at home in the 700 block of Day Avenue, said Cindy Watson, executive director of the Jacksonville Area Minority Youth Network.

Transgenders identify with both male and female characteristics.

"She was someone willing to live openly and honestly as a transgender person and, because of that, she was very well-respected," said Watson, adding that Summers would not say that she was a man and, out of respect for her knowing herself, "we refer to her as a woman."

Summers, a retired Navy lieutenant commander, organized a protest against Winn-Dixie in January after an employee was fired for cross-dressing off duty, said Monica Helms, director of Trans=Action, a transgender advocacy group based in Atlanta, and a Summers friend.

"As a leader of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, when someone is an open transgender activist, I have to wonder about the possibility of it being a hate crime," Watson said. "We know transgender people are targeted more than any other group in the gay, lesbian and bisexual community."

Homicide detectives investigating the case were not available for more information.

CRIME NEWS

MURDER ARRESTS: Two men were arrested Wednesday in the beating death of a 45-year-old man, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

Robert Nathaniel Berrian, 27, and Cipriano Ramirez Bucasas, 26, were charged with murder in the death of Ralph Ernest Mielke, 45, who was found dead Sept. 5 at 5520 Collins Road.

Police said Berrian, Bucasas and three others went to Mielke's home looking for someone who had taken money from one of them. Police said Mielke told them the person was not there and gave them the money taken. As the two men were leaving, reports said they then began to beat Mielke, striking him in the head and kicking him.

Both suspects were transported to Duval County jail.

SENIOR BEATEN: An 86-year-old woman was found in a closet beaten and tied up in a chair early yesterday after someone wearing a black mask robbed her Como Road home, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

The woman, whose name is not being released for her safety, told police the robber woke her up, punched her in the mouth and then tied her up with an electrical cord from a heating pad. Police found her sitting in her chair, bleeding from her mouth and arms; they took her to St. Vincent's Medical Center, where she remained last night. No information on her condition was available.

IN THE COURTS

APPEAL LOST: A former medical examiner convicted of murdering his first wife by lethal injection has lost a bid for a new trial, but he has another appeal pending.

Circuit Judge Don T. Sirmons on Wednesday rejected the request from William Sybers, who was the medical examiner in Panama City when his wife, Kay, 52, died at their home in 1991. Sirmons sentenced Sybers, 68, to life in prison without parole for 25 years for first-degree murder.

Sybers was not charged until 1997. At trial, he was accused of committing the murder with an injection of succinylcholine, a muscle paralyzer used in surgeries.

Sybers' lawyers asked Sirmons for a new trial because a prosecution witness, Joe Davis, later said defense experts, who testified Kay Sybers died of asthma-induced heart failure, based their finding on different tissue slides than he was given to examine. …