09/12/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Gone Too Soon: The Lateisha Green story

Halloween used to be Moses Cannon's favorite holiday growing up. It was the one time during the year when no one would make a big deal about him dressing up like a girl. When Moses was 16-years old, he dressed up in girl's clothing, as he did for the last few years, except this time, he wasn't looking back. That year, Moses Cannon became Lateisha Green and transitioned from male to female.

Lateisha wasn't a cross-dresser. She lived her life freely as a female, a decision her mother Roxanne Greene admittedly had a hard time accepting because she knew that her child was unprepared to face society's ugly ignorance. What happened on November 14, 2008 was Roxanne's greatest fear. While 22-year old Lateisha and her 18-year old brother Mark sat in a car in Syracuse, NY, Dwight DeLee, 20, shot them both. Mark survived but Lateisha died. DeLee has been charged with murder in the second degree as a hate crime and was recently convicted of shooting Lateisha for no other reason than believing she was gay. This is only the second hate crime conviction involving the murder of a transgendered person in United States history.

As the one year anniversary of Lateisha's death approaches in the fall, her family continues to cope with the enormous loss. Lateisha's mother Roxanne spoke with ESSENCE.com about her difficulty accepting Lateisha's death, giving up her son for a daughter and why she'll be in the courtroom to see DeLee sentenced for killing her child.

When Lateisha was 16-years old, she wrote her father and I a letter explain how she felt about [href="http://www.essence.com/news_entertainment/entertainment/articles/terrance_dean_commentary/"] and embarrassed by it. When I got home, I saw all this blood in the bathroom sink. I found out they had taken Moses to the hospital and he had been slashed all over his face. I told her not to leave the house and she didn't, but this boy and some friends came to the house and did this. The doctor said they had just missed a vital vein and that he was a very lucky young man. All I could think was why?

After that incident Lateisha just stopped running. She got stronger. Suddenly, it didn't matter what people were saying about her. The night she died, Lateisha and her brother Mark drove up to a friend's house. There were people outside talking. The next thing they knew, someone came to the window and opened fire. Lateisha told Mark to take off. She was screaming out ‘My heart, my heart.' Mark was telling her no, you just got shot in the shoulder. You'll be alright. Mark was on his way to the hospital but all Lateisha wanted to do was come home. I was inside when they came to the house. I ran outside to see my baby on the ground. I got there right before she died. The autopsy report said that her lungs had quickly filled up with blood. The bullet ended up hitting the main artery in the back of her heart. I never thought in a million years that I would be burying my child.

Since Lateisha's death, I haven't known how to help my family especially her father. He's hurting so badly. When Lateisha came out, he was hurt because he has always tried to protect her. She was such a sensitive child and would get so upset when the kids would jump her after school. But in the end, neither one of us could protect her. We're used to a having this happy-go-lucky person, who could just light up the room with us all the time. I never knew I could miss something so much in my life. I just want to scream sometimes. I've never felt this [href="http://www.essence.com/news_entertainment/news/articles/carl_walker_hoover_suicide/"] need to realize you can't turn your kid away. You're all they have and I knew that with Lateisha. If felt like as long as I supported her, she would know we were there for her and that's what matters.

I just received a letter from the state about the new hate crimes bill that would include protection for transgenders. I'm getting ready to go to Albany to speak and get this bill passed in Lateisha's name. I will never forget the look on my child's face the day she died in front of our house and I hope people can understand that.




Read more on Essence

Subscribe to the Entertainment email.
Home to your favorite fan theories and the best movie recs.