Justice Dept. to help in Iowa case of slain transgender teen

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Justice Department is sending a federal hate crimes lawyer to Iowa to help prosecute a man charged with killing a transgender teenager last year.

LGBT advocates have long been skeptical of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ pledge to prosecute acts of violence against transgender people. But the rare move, outlined in recently filed court papers, is a sign he intends to do so even as the Trump administration has taken other steps to erode the rights of transgender people broadly. The New York Times first reported the decision Sunday.

The case involves 23-year-old Jorge Sanders-Galvez. He is charged with killing 16-year-old Kedarie Johnson in Burlington, Iowa, in March 2016. Authorities have not disclosed a motive. But Johnson’s relatives tell local news outlets they believe the shooting was a hate crime.