Thursday, July 24, 2008

Show Support at Sentencing Hearing in Corrales Case

For more than three years the LGBT community of southern Arizona has followed the proceedings of the case to find and prosecute the person responsible for the tragic death of Amancio Corrales in Yuma. The case against Ruben Solorio Valenzuela has finally come to a sentencing date of August 21, and community members are urged to attend in support.

On May 6, 2005, the body of Amancio Corrales was found in the Colorado River near Yuma. He died from what has been described by authorities as "violent trauma" inflicted upon him through an act of homicide.

Amancio was twenty-three years old and a well-known figure who performed as a female impersonator under the name Dalila. Although investigators at Yuma County Sherriff's Office did not initially describe Amancio's murder as a hate crime, many in the community believed, and still do, that it was.

On July 22, 2008, a plea bargain was submitted by Ruben Solorio Valenzuela's defense in which Valenzuela plead guilty to Second Degree Manslaughter with aggravated circumstances; Valenzuela had originally been booked under Second Degree murder charges, charges that the grand jury reduced to manslaughter and abandonment of a body. Under the agreement, Valenzuela will be required to pay restitution not to exceed fifty thousand dollars and will receive a prison term of eight years and nine months. He will be credited for time served since his May 2007 arrest and will be eligible for parole after serving 85% of his sentence.

"The plea agreement sends a dangerous message to the community," says Oscar Jimenez, manager of the Wingspan Anti-Violence Programs.

"Our concern is that the plea agreement encourages the idea that violence against members of the LGBT community is excusable and tolerated by law enforcement and the courts. Fear and misunderstanding of the LGBT community is not an excuse for harassment, violence or murder and should not be used to give a defendant lighter sentencing or minimal consequences. Tragically, the family of Amancio Corrales is being re-victimized."

LGBT community members are encouraged to write in support to the family via the Amancio Project website (

Wingspan AVP staff will be present at the August 21 sentencing hearing to provide support for the family, and to outreach in Yuma and surrounding communities.

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