SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Today, a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico returned an indictment against two defendants charged with the murder of two transgender women, announced W. Stephen Muldrow, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. The four-count indictment includes charges for using a firearm in relation to crimes of violence, carjacking resulting in death, and destruction of property using explosive materials. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) were in charge of the investigation.
The indictment alleges in Counts One and Two, that from April 21 until April 22, 2020, defendants Sean Díaz De León and Juan Carlos Pagán Bonilla, aiding and abetting each other, knowingly used and carried a firearm during and in relation to crimes of violence and in the course of those crimes, caused the deaths of two transgender women, S.A.V.R., and L.P.S., through the use of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c) and 924(j). The crimes of violence underlying the firearms offense charged in Counts One and Two, were a carjacking and a hate crime based on gender, sexual orientation or gender identity, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2119(3) and 249(a)(2)(A).
The indictment further alleges that defendants Díaz de León and Pagán Bonilla shot victims S.A.V.R. and L.P.S., and took their motor vehicle, a white Hyundai Accent, which had been transported, shipped and received in interstate and foreign commerce, by force, violence and intimidation, resulting in death, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2119(3) and 2. The indictment includes a charge of destruction of property using explosives for maliciously damaging and destroying the vehicle by means of fire, all in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 844(i) and 2.
Assistant U.S. Attorney José A. Contreras of the District of Puerto Rico, Special Litigation Counsel Rose Gibson and Trial Attorney Laura Gilson, of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice are in charge of the prosecution of the case. If convicted, the defendants face up to life in prison or the death penalty. Indictments contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.
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