TTR News Center

Search underway for suspect in California trans woman's death

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(BRAWLEY, Calif.) — Investigators are still working to determine a motive in the death of 22-year-old Marilyn Cazares, who was found in an abandoned home in Brawley, California, on Monday. Her family said they believe it’s a hate crime.

Firefighters discovered her body while responding to reports of a fire in a deserted single-family home around 8:30 a.m. The official cause of death is currently under investigation.

“She was a very proud member of the LGBT community,” Cazares’ aunt, Lorissa Espinoza, said in and interview with ABC News. “She was strong and she would look anybody in the eye and say, ‘I’m very proud of who I am.'”

Espinoza said her niece, who began transitioning about five years ago, suffered from bullying as a young boy and teenager. It got worse when she came out as transgender, Espinoza added.

“She often would come home in tears because when she decided to transition people would say and do awful things,” Espinoza said. “She was ridiculed because of her identity. And sadly, I believe it’s because people are not as tolerant as we would hope they would be. They lack awareness, so they don’t have the compassion and the competence in that sense.”

She described Cazares as loving and funny person who called other members of the LGBTQ community “her brothers and sisters.”

“Being beautiful was so important to her. She enjoyed getting dressed up — the wigs, the nails, the makeup, the full nine,” Espinoza said. “She loved everything about being feminine and she was a very kind and outspoken person.”

Police are currently investigating her death as a homicide, but the family said they believe it should be classified as a hate crime, in part, due to the crime’s “sheer gruesomeness.”

Her family said she was fatally stabbed and burned, but police have not released any information about the cause of death. They said she struggled with drug addiction and enjoyed living on the streets with “her people” despite having a family home to go to.

Brawley Police Department Commander Brett Houser said there’s been a steady flow of mourners gathering daily near the scene of the crime throughout the week.

“It hurts my heart,” Houser told ABC News Friday. “A lot of people have been coming by to spend a few moments there. You see them either crying, praying or talking quietly and then they kind of move on until next group comes through.”

“Seeing that kind of reminds you of why you get into the job. You want to save people from that grief, and possibly stop those things from happening or find justice for when they do happen,” he added.

He declined to offer details on the ongoing investigation as the department is “still working leads and following up on information.”

Family members said funeral arrangements were still in the works, but that they are planning a “call for justice” march where they plan to honor Cazares’ life and speak out against transphobia and discrimination.

“In Imperial Valley, where we live, being transgender is not necessarily accepted,” Espinoza said. “That’s why we want to continue to put our voice out there for. We’re trying to create a movement so that we can bring awareness and ultimately get justice.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

28 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico have issued mask mandates to prevent spread of COVID-19

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(NEW YORK) — As the novel coronavirus surges across the U.S., with 71,000 new coronavirus cases across the country on Thursday, the most in a single day, the debate about whether state governments should be requiring masks has becoming increasingly contentious. In the past weeks, a growing number of states have begun issuing new mask requirements.

In an analysis of all 50 states, ABC News found that 28 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico, have issued statewide mask mandates.

The 28 states that have issued mask mandates are Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

ABC News’ analysis only includes statewide mandates, and does not include orders at the city or county level.

In an editorial published by the Journal American Medical Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reviewed the latest scientific evidence pertaining to wearing face masks, including two case studies that proffered evidence that they help prevent infected individuals from spreading the virus to others.

“We are not defenseless against COVID-19,” CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield said in a press release, calling on Americans to wear masks in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. “Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus — particularly when used universally within a community setting. All Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.”

“If anyone in this nation would just take on a face covering, practice excellent hand hygiene and be smart about their distancing in crowds, we can bring this outbreak to its knees in two, four, six, eight weeks,” Redfield said on a call with reporters Wednesday.

The two case studies demonstrated the advantages of using masks. One of the cases, investigated by JAMA, showed that compliance with masking policies reduced COVID-12 transmission within a Boston hospital system. Such a finding was corroborated by the case, last month, of two Missouri hairstylists who saw 139 clients while symptomatic with COVID-19. The clients and the stylists all wore face coverings. The investigation revealed that none of the clients, or any of their secondary contacts, developed the virus.

However, the issue has become increasingly politicized, particularly with President Donald Trump insisting that it should be voluntary and not mandated. So far, the president has publicly worn a mask only once, when visiting the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center last Saturday.

In Georgia, despite reporting a record number of current hospitalizations this week, and over 2,000 new coronavirus cases every day for four consecutive days, Gov. Brian Kemp refused to mandate the wearing of masks, urging instead for residents to voluntarily wear a mask for four weeks.

“While we all agree that wearing a mask is effective, I’m confident that Georgians don’t need a mandate to do the right thing. I know that Georgians can rise to this challenge and they will,” Kemp said in a news conference.

Kemp issued an executive order overruling local regulations that require masks in public and filed a suit on Thursday seeking to block the Atlanta City Council and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms from requiring face masks, depicting such orders as “unenforceable.”

“This lawsuit is on behalf of the Atlanta business owners and their hardworking employees who are struggling to survive during these difficult times,” Kemp tweeted. “I refuse to sit back and watch as disastrous policies threaten the lives and livelihoods of our citizens.”

Similarly, in Oklahoma, a state also with surging infections and rates of COVID-19-related hospitalizations, Gov. Kevin Stitt, despite testing positive for the virus himself, remained steadfast in his opposition to implementing a mask mandate.

However, an increasing number of Republican-led states, such as Texas and Arkansas, are now mandating masks, after the governors publicly opposed taking such measures in the past.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans, and an increasing number of Republicans, now say they’re wearing face masks when they leave the house, according to an Axios-Ipsos poll.

A growing number of major retailers, such as Walmart, CVS, Target, Kohl’s and Starbucks, among others, are also now requiring face coverings when entering their stores.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.