Sentencing in Trans Woman’s 2011 Murder

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Van

Equan Southall, 28, was sentenced to 23 years to life in the 2011 murder of his 38-year-old girlfriend, Camila Guzman, a transgender woman who had immigrated to New York from Chile. 

Southall was convicted on April 29 of second-degree murder in a gruesome case in which he was found to have stabbed Guzman multiple times in the back and torso, bludgeoned her in the head with a candlestick, and then wrapped a pillowcase around her neck and strangled her to death. 

Southall and Guzman lived together in an apartment on East 110th Street, where the August 2011 killing took place. 

At the time of the murder, anti-violence activists pointed to the case as an example of both the risks facing transgender women and the incidence of domestic violence in the LGBT community. A May 22 press release from the Manhattan district attorney’s office announcing the sentencing emphasized the same themes.

“Domestic violence can escalate in a heartbeat,” said District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., in the release. “It ends the lives of too many vulnerable individuals who may not know where to turn for help. In this case, the defendant brutally attacked and killed his girlfriend, a transgender woman and a member of the LGBT community, at their apartment in East Harlem. I encourage domestic violence survivors to call my office’s Domestic Violence Hotline at 212-335-4308 and visit the Manhattan Family Justice Center at 80 Centre Street.” 

—Paul Schindler