Man Found Guilty in Killing of Gender-Fluid Burlington Teen

Nov 3, 2017

Jorge Sanders-Galvez has been found guilty of first-degree murder in the 2016 killing of a gender-fluid teen.

Prosecutors say he aided and abetted Jaron Purham in the murder of 16-year-old Kedarie Johnson in Burlington.

The jury submitted a verdict after less than two hours of deliberation in Keokuk.

Des Moines County Attorney Amy Beavers says she was somewhat surprised with the speed of the jury’s decision, but she thinks it was the right decision.

"The malice in this crime was extreme, and the jury obviously saw that as we saw it," Beavers says. "And to have them agree with us, with murder in the first degree, with the defendant going to prison for the rest of his life, is clearly warranted in this case." 

Sanders-Galvez has yet to be sentenced, but life in prison without parole is the mandatory sentence for first-degree murder. 

The victim's mother cried as she walked out of the court room and whispered, "I'm just so happy." 

The other defendant in the case, Jaron Purham, was recently extradited back to Iowa.

In closing arguments, prosecutors said Sanders-Galvez and Purham killed Johnson because they discovered he was biologically male during a sexual encounter. Johnson was dressed in women’s clothes the night he was killed.

A federal hate crimes attorney assisted the prosecution. He did not comment on whether Sanders-Galvez will face a federal hate crime charge. He also declined to comment on whether he will be aiding in the prosecution of Purham.