Double Lives Love and Hate Crime


Double Lives

Documentary series about hate crime in the US. This episode tells the story of a young man who is sentenced to life in prison for the murder of the woman he loved.


Similar Content

Browse content similar to Double Lives. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!

Transcript


LineFromTo

This programme contains some strong language and some scenes which some viewers may find upsetting.

0:00:020:00:07

If there is anything in this world that I could take back,

0:00:070:00:11

it would be that I would give Mercedes her life back.

0:00:110:00:13

I would actually give my life in exchange for her life

0:00:150:00:21

because the guilt that I'm living with

0:00:210:00:26

is so horrible, it's not worth it.

0:00:260:00:30

I know that I'm secure in my relationship with God,

0:00:320:00:35

but I don't know that Mercedes was secure,

0:00:350:00:38

so I have to live with the fact that...

0:00:380:00:41

..I killed Mercedes and...

0:00:420:00:44

..she's in hell.

0:00:450:00:47

VOICEOVER: I was deceived and lied to.

0:01:150:01:18

VOICEOVER: It doesn't make what I did right.

0:01:210:01:23

VOICEOVER: But things could have went a lot differently

0:01:270:01:31

had the truth been shared.

0:01:310:01:33

2016, 10:04.

0:01:460:01:49

The state of Mississippi versus Joshua Brandon Vallum.

0:01:490:01:52

-How old are you?

-29.

0:01:530:01:55

And are you married?

0:01:550:01:57

-I'm divorced.

-Do you understand, if your plea of guilty is accepted,

0:01:570:02:01

you could lose your freedom for a long time?

0:02:010:02:03

-Yes, sir.

-Have you read the indictment?

0:02:030:02:05

-Yes, sir.

-What crime are you charged with?

0:02:050:02:07

-Murder, sir.

-Do you know the minimum sentence

0:02:070:02:10

-and the fine for the charge to which you are pleading?

-Yes, sir.

0:02:100:02:13

Tell me what it is, please.

0:02:130:02:14

-Life, sir.

-Do you understand, if you plead guilty,

0:02:140:02:18

you're waiving all of your constitutional rights and defences?

0:02:180:02:21

-Yes, sir.

-Your Honour, on May 30, 2015,

0:02:210:02:25

there is no doubt that this defendant

0:02:250:02:27

stabbed Mercedes Williamson.

0:02:270:02:30

Mercedes was 17 at the time of her death.

0:02:300:02:32

Everyone I've talked to, everyone said the same thing -

0:02:320:02:36

that she was a good person, loving, kind.

0:02:360:02:38

She was a star in high school.

0:02:380:02:41

Mercedes chose to live her life the way she wanted to live it.

0:02:410:02:45

Even Mr Vallum will say they loved each other.

0:02:450:02:48

But they also both knew they were playing with fire.

0:02:480:02:51

Are you pleading guilty because you're guilty

0:02:510:02:53

and for no other reason?

0:02:530:02:54

-Yes, sir.

-Well, tell me what you did that makes you think you're guilty.

0:02:540:02:57

Um...

0:02:570:02:59

..I killed Mercedes Williamson, sir.

0:02:590:03:01

I accept the plea and the recommendation of the state

0:03:060:03:09

and sentence you to life in prison

0:03:090:03:11

in the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

0:03:110:03:13

-Court is adjourned, thank you.

-GAVEL BANGS

0:03:130:03:15

-RADIO:

-Is your credit so bad,

0:03:310:03:34

not even your mama will lend you money?

0:03:340:03:37

I am your voice.

0:03:370:03:40

This is Good Morning Mississippi Weekend.

0:03:400:03:43

VOICEOVER: Life is a long time.

0:03:570:03:59

Turn around.

0:04:000:04:02

VOICEOVER: It's hard to fathom I'm spending more years in prison

0:04:020:04:06

than I am in age right now.

0:04:060:04:09

Fuck you! I'm the tough guy, brah. I'm the tough guy!

0:04:100:04:14

You don't know why I'm in here, homeboy.

0:04:140:04:16

I'm a gangbanger. This is what I do.

0:04:160:04:20

I've been eating chumps like you since day one.

0:04:200:04:22

The first time that I actually met Mercedes,

0:04:310:04:33

I had went over to her house to smoke with her.

0:04:330:04:37

She was tall, really skinny, had a flat stomach,

0:04:370:04:41

had shoulder-length brown hair.

0:04:410:04:43

She wouldn't sit next to me

0:04:460:04:48

and I had her phone number, so I would text her across the room

0:04:480:04:52

and I'd be like, "You know, you can sit next to me,"

0:04:520:04:56

you know, because I thought she was just being shy.

0:04:560:04:59

But I cared about Mercedes.

0:04:590:05:01

We had fun together.

0:05:010:05:03

We were just like a typical couple.

0:05:030:05:05

I mean, you know when a relationship first starts out, it's always...

0:05:050:05:10

Call it the puppy love stage, you're infatuated with the person.

0:05:100:05:14

She had really soft lips.

0:05:160:05:18

Imagine losing your best friend, your other half,

0:05:280:05:30

the person you spend every day, every hour, every minute,

0:05:300:05:33

every second with and there's nothing you can do about it.

0:05:330:05:37

That was taken when we were 15.

0:05:370:05:41

It was our freshman year.

0:05:410:05:43

I still want to believe that she's going to come walking up

0:05:450:05:50

and be like, "They got the wrong person, it's not me."

0:05:500:05:54

She was so loving and sweet.

0:05:580:06:00

The sunflower is because she's like my sunshine, you know?

0:06:030:06:08

CHEERLEADERS CHANT

0:06:100:06:12

I was the senior investigator on the case.

0:06:170:06:21

This case was different from the start

0:06:210:06:23

and it continued to take different twists and turns.

0:06:230:06:27

You know, everybody in George County's a good Christian,

0:06:270:06:30

people that love the country lifestyle

0:06:300:06:33

and enjoys being around their family.

0:06:330:06:36

The crime that took place involving Josh Vallum and Mercedes Williamson,

0:06:370:06:44

it's not something that happens every day.

0:06:440:06:47

Actually, it's the first time

0:06:470:06:48

something like this has ever taken place.

0:06:480:06:51

I'm an investigative reporter

0:07:000:07:03

and I focus primarily on crime.

0:07:030:07:06

This is an area that's very deep rooted in Christianity.

0:07:060:07:11

It's funny how, you know, when I ride these roads and I think about,

0:07:150:07:20

you know, these are the same roads that Josh rode.

0:07:200:07:23

That's where Josh went to high school.

0:07:240:07:26

You know, in death the best thing you can do

0:07:290:07:32

is to write something that you hope will maybe

0:07:320:07:36

do this person, who has been wronged, some justice,

0:07:360:07:44

though it never really will.

0:07:440:07:45

It's just words.

0:07:450:07:47

I started writing about the case and I went to courts,

0:07:470:07:51

trying to pick up affidavits to see if it would at least shed some light

0:07:510:07:57

on who this victim was other than...

0:07:570:07:59

Than just...

0:07:590:08:02

the birth name.

0:08:020:08:04

Mercedes kind of lived different lives in different scenarios.

0:08:070:08:12

I had to know who Mercedes was.

0:08:150:08:17

Cell five.

0:08:190:08:21

VOICEOVER: It seemed like we had been dating longer than two months

0:08:230:08:26

cos I'd go over there two or three times a week.

0:08:260:08:29

I'd even stay the night, you know.

0:08:340:08:37

And I had talked to her about having sex

0:08:380:08:42

and she just said she wasn't ready yet.

0:08:420:08:45

You know, I thought... Well, I mean, she's a good girl, you know?

0:08:470:08:51

"I hope she's not saving herself for marriage," is what I was thinking!

0:08:520:08:55

She would give me blow jobs to, I guess,

0:09:010:09:04

appease my sexual appetite, but that was it.

0:09:040:09:09

I thought that maybe Mercedes was a virgin.

0:09:100:09:12

We're going to where Mercedes was living.

0:09:170:09:20

High school friends, you know, they remember her

0:09:200:09:24

as this fun, happy-go-lucky good friend.

0:09:240:09:27

She had this other side to her

0:09:270:09:30

that was all about making a buck.

0:09:300:09:32

She had a 200-a-day crack habit.

0:09:350:09:39

She did what she had to do to make money.

0:09:410:09:43

That included prostitution.

0:09:450:09:47

I'm over at a friend's house.

0:09:530:09:55

I'm standing on the porch, smoking a cigarette,

0:09:550:09:57

and I've seen Mercedes walking down the side of the road.

0:09:570:10:00

I pop my head in the door and asked him.

0:10:030:10:06

I was like, "Hey, man, I think I've just seen Mercedes."

0:10:060:10:09

And he said, "Yeah, she's staying right around the corner."

0:10:090:10:12

I mean, he told me she was staying at a crack house.

0:10:120:10:15

I mean, I couldn't believe that she was doing drugs, but...

0:10:180:10:21

She just didn't seem like that type of girl, but just goes to show,

0:10:210:10:25

you never really know people.

0:10:250:10:27

-Hey.

-Hey!

0:11:170:11:19

-How are you?

-I'm fine, how are you?

0:11:190:11:22

My name is Margaret.

0:11:220:11:23

-Who?

-Margaret.

0:11:230:11:25

Hey, Margaret.

0:11:250:11:27

Do you remember... Do you remember Mercedes?

0:11:270:11:30

Yeah.

0:11:300:11:31

Go! That's enough.

0:11:310:11:34

-What did you think of Mercedes?

-I liked her. I liked her, yeah.

0:11:340:11:39

But I guess it took me about a week

0:11:400:11:42

to figure out what was going on, you know?

0:11:420:11:44

HE LAUGHS

0:11:440:11:46

I never had a problem with her.

0:11:460:11:47

In fact, she spent the night over here one night.

0:11:470:11:50

I sleep on my couch most of the time.

0:11:510:11:53

-Yeah.

-She said she was having a problem, arguing and stuff.

0:11:530:11:55

I said, "Go get in that bed back there in the back," and, you know,

0:11:550:11:59

she spent the night here.

0:11:590:12:00

And...got up the next morning, everything was fine.

0:12:000:12:05

-We had breakfast.

-Yeah.

0:12:050:12:07

-Yeah.

-But it was all good.

0:12:070:12:08

But, no, I liked Mercedes.

0:12:080:12:10

I liked Mercedes. Mercedes was a good person.

0:12:100:12:13

And...

0:12:130:12:15

I'd hate to see anybody say something bad about her,

0:12:170:12:20

to tell you the truth,

0:12:200:12:21

because I don't think she had a bad bone in her body.

0:12:210:12:24

All right...

0:12:300:12:32

This is where she slept.

0:12:410:12:42

Get down! Get, get!

0:12:420:12:45

We had a little party crowd,

0:12:470:12:49

was what we had going on at that particular time.

0:12:490:12:51

Mercedes was part of it.

0:12:510:12:53

They'd bounce in here and bounce out.

0:12:530:12:55

I had neighbours from down the road

0:12:550:12:57

and they would all come down and party.

0:12:570:13:00

I found out they were doing meth and stuff.

0:13:000:13:03

I said, "Hey, don't even come on my property no more.

0:13:030:13:06

"I don't allow that around here. I don't want nothing to do with it."

0:13:060:13:11

Yeah.

0:13:110:13:12

She liked to come in here and take pictures of herself.

0:13:120:13:17

I don't know what happened, but...

0:13:270:13:30

He stabbed her and he beat her over the head with a claw hammer.

0:13:310:13:35

Man!

0:13:350:13:37

You didn't have to tell me that.

0:13:390:13:41

Man!

0:13:410:13:42

Poor Mercedes.

0:13:440:13:46

She didn't deserve that.

0:13:460:13:48

I went and jumped in my car

0:13:530:13:56

and drove up to her and rolled down my window and said, "Hey!"

0:13:560:14:00

And she looked at me and she was a little shocked to see me.

0:14:000:14:04

And I said, "You don't have any plans?"

0:14:040:14:06

She said, "No." And I said, "Well, you do now. Get in."

0:14:060:14:08

She was like, "What are we going to do?"

0:14:080:14:10

I told her, "Well, we're going to go smoke some weed

0:14:100:14:13

"and it's Saturday and my dad's probably going to be grilling,

0:14:130:14:15

"so we'll go and have some ribs and some baked beans and potato salad,

0:14:150:14:20

"the good old Southern meal, and we'll have sex."

0:14:200:14:23

And she said, "OK."

0:14:230:14:26

She said, "You're lucky you're hot."

0:14:260:14:27

She said, "Not everybody can pull up

0:14:270:14:30

"and just get me in a vehicle with them."

0:14:300:14:32

On the way over there, I guess she got nervous.

0:14:320:14:36

She...

0:14:360:14:37

..asked me, she was like, "Is this a set-up?"

0:14:390:14:43

And I pulled behind my dad's house.

0:14:430:14:45

It was a nice, sunny day.

0:14:450:14:46

It was warm. Nice, blue sky.

0:14:460:14:49

I was thinking, "Hey, I'm about to get lucky."

0:14:490:14:52

Didn't work out that way.

0:14:560:14:57

The body was face down...

0:15:000:15:02

..in a prone position

0:15:050:15:06

and from the side and the top,

0:15:060:15:09

I couldn't make an identification of who it was

0:15:090:15:11

cos all that flesh had decomposed.

0:15:110:15:15

There was a lot of insect activity around the head.

0:15:150:15:19

I noticed on that foot was pink toenail polish.

0:15:190:15:24

So I back up, I come back to the head.

0:15:250:15:29

From this angle, I can see the tank top shirt

0:15:300:15:33

the victim was wearing and the lip of the shirt

0:15:330:15:37

that's here was down the shoulder

0:15:370:15:40

and right here was an exposed bra strap.

0:15:400:15:43

So, me and Mercedes were back behind the house and we're making out

0:15:430:15:47

and, you know, I reach down between her legs and...

0:15:470:15:53

..she has a penis.

0:15:540:15:57

And I snap.

0:15:570:15:59

And...

0:15:590:16:00

..I jumped back and I yelled, you know, "What the hell was that?"

0:16:020:16:07

And...Mercedes freaked out and jumped out of the vehicle.

0:16:070:16:12

Well, I jumped out of the vehicle and ran around my car.

0:16:120:16:16

And...I pulled out my pocket knife

0:16:180:16:23

and I started stabbing Mercedes.

0:16:230:16:26

CAMERA CLICKS

0:16:260:16:30

She fell down

0:16:320:16:34

and she got back up and I never stopped stabbing her.

0:16:340:16:40

I was...

0:16:400:16:41

..stabbing her in her back and her neck and her head and...

0:16:440:16:51

She said, "Oh, my God, I'm dying.

0:16:560:17:00

"I'm dying."

0:17:000:17:02

And she...

0:17:020:17:05

..lay down on the ground

0:17:070:17:09

and she closed her eyes.

0:17:090:17:11

I remember thinking to myself, "She's still breathing."

0:17:220:17:26

Mercedes got up and started running

0:17:270:17:30

and I looked in my trunk

0:17:300:17:33

and there was a carpenter's hammer laying there.

0:17:330:17:36

And I grabbed the hammer and I chased her through the woods

0:17:360:17:39

and when I caught up to her, I hit her in the head with it -

0:17:390:17:43

probably about three times.

0:17:430:17:46

And that was it.

0:17:480:17:49

I was on my way back to the crime scene

0:17:550:17:58

and I got a phone call.

0:17:580:18:00

They found out the victim indeed had a penis.

0:18:000:18:05

So at that time, I was kind of like,

0:18:050:18:07

"OK. This is going to be a little bit different."

0:18:070:18:12

What's the motive for the crime?

0:18:140:18:16

Is it a relationship that's gone bad?

0:18:160:18:19

Is it a drug deal that's gone bad?

0:18:190:18:22

Is it gang-related? Was she a prostitute and something happened?

0:18:220:18:27

We don't know.

0:18:270:18:29

I drove from my dad's house in George County

0:18:400:18:44

to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

0:18:440:18:47

While I was driving, I was just screaming at myself.

0:18:470:18:49

I couldn't believe what I'd done.

0:18:490:18:51

I was still just freaked out.

0:18:540:18:56

I didn't know what to do.

0:18:560:18:58

I was just trying to calm myself down.

0:18:580:19:00

I couldn't even listen to the radio.

0:19:000:19:02

I rode in silence, just screaming at myself every now and then.

0:19:030:19:06

I went down to the liquor store and I bought me a big bottle of vodka.

0:19:060:19:11

When I seen that Mercedes was still breathing...

0:19:160:19:18

..I could have stopped then and called an ambulance.

0:19:200:19:23

I don't know why I didn't stop.

0:19:260:19:28

My phone rang and it was my dad

0:19:310:19:33

and he asked me, he said, "Where you at?"

0:19:330:19:37

And I said, "Why?" And he said, "I want to know where you're at.

0:19:370:19:41

"Where are you?" And I said, "I'm on the coast, why?"

0:19:410:19:44

He said, "Well, it just came to my attention

0:19:440:19:47

"that you showed up at my house Saturday covered in blood."

0:19:470:19:50

And I told him, "Dad, I did something bad.

0:19:530:19:56

"I did something wrong and I don't know what to do about it.

0:19:560:19:59

"I'm freaked out."

0:19:590:20:01

My dad told me,

0:20:030:20:04

he said, "Son, you know you need to do the right thing."

0:20:040:20:06

And I said, "Yeah, I know. I've been thinking about it."

0:20:060:20:09

I know it sounds horrible to, you know,

0:20:100:20:14

expect my dad to help me cover up something like that.

0:20:140:20:17

And I'm not saying that I wished he would have,

0:20:180:20:22

but I expected him to really say something more like, "It's OK,

0:20:220:20:26

"we'll figure this out. We'll get through it,"

0:20:260:20:29

not, "Hey, I'm going to call the sheriff."

0:20:290:20:32

Very rare, you know, that somebody reports, you know,

0:20:320:20:35

a homicide like this one as far as, you know,

0:20:350:20:40

"My son's killed somebody."

0:20:400:20:42

That's what you see on TV.

0:20:420:20:43

Josh, he was willing to talk and tell us what took place

0:20:450:20:48

and agreed to give us a statement.

0:20:480:20:50

DOOR OPENS

0:20:540:20:56

Hi, Josh.

0:20:570:20:59

We go to kissing and, you know...

0:21:050:21:08

-Just give me a minute.

-Take your time.

0:21:140:21:17

We were kissing.

0:21:190:21:21

I was groping.

0:21:210:21:23

And I felt something that wasn't supposed to be there.

0:21:240:21:28

And I panicked.

0:21:280:21:30

And... I know...

0:21:320:21:35

I know... All that was going through my head at the time was, you know,

0:21:350:21:39

"What...?" You know, "What the fuck?!"

0:21:390:21:43

-Then I killed somebody.

-Mm-hm.

0:21:430:21:46

You know, you're sitting there, you're making out with somebody

0:21:480:21:51

and you think they're a female

0:21:510:21:53

and they haven't told you that they're not female

0:21:530:21:56

and then you find out they're a male, you know, um...

0:21:560:22:00

That makes it a crime of passion.

0:22:010:22:02

And looking at the pictures, I'm kind of like,

0:22:040:22:06

"Well, you know, it looked like a really attractive female."

0:22:060:22:08

And so it kind of lent a little bit of credibility

0:22:080:22:13

to what he was saying.

0:22:130:22:14

I've never worked a homicide that involved a transgender victim

0:22:170:22:23

and so it definitely kind of was a shock.

0:22:230:22:29

But it doesn't change what you have to do.

0:22:340:22:37

The police did not release, suggest or infer

0:22:390:22:46

that this person who was dead was actually a transgender girl.

0:22:460:22:53

The person that was found partially decomposed

0:22:530:22:56

was a young man named Michael Christopher Wilkins.

0:22:560:23:01

Michael first moved in with me when we were in sixth grade,

0:23:170:23:20

we were about 12,

0:23:200:23:23

cos his parents didn't want him.

0:23:230:23:25

His dad would say certain stuff to him

0:23:250:23:29

like, "You're not my son if you're gay.

0:23:290:23:31

"I had a son when you were born, not a daughter.

0:23:310:23:35

"I don't want a daughter, I want a son.

0:23:350:23:37

"You're supposed to be my football player, not my cheerleader."

0:23:370:23:40

We would come sit right out here and Michael would climb up

0:23:490:23:52

and get on top of this lion

0:23:520:23:53

and he would act like it was a horse and he would ride it.

0:23:530:23:56

He was bullied - pushed around, knocked down, kicked,

0:23:570:24:00

his stuff would be knocked out of his hands,

0:24:000:24:02

his phone was stolen one time.

0:24:020:24:04

Um... There were girls trying to fight him

0:24:040:24:07

because he wanted to be a girl and he wasn't a girl.

0:24:070:24:09

There were guys trying to fight him

0:24:090:24:11

because he was a guy that wanted to be a girl

0:24:110:24:13

and they all thought that Michael was trying to hit on them.

0:24:130:24:15

That's why he stopped going to school, was cos of stuff like that.

0:24:150:24:18

Michael would text Josh and be like,

0:24:190:24:21

"Hey, come pick me up, I want to hang out."

0:24:210:24:24

He would just come and pull up,

0:24:250:24:27

Michael would get in and he'd go to the stop sign,

0:24:270:24:29

he'd either turn or go straight.

0:24:290:24:30

Michael loved Josh.

0:24:320:24:34

Michael did everything for Josh.

0:24:340:24:36

And he did nothing for Michael but take his life away.

0:24:360:24:39

Mercedes, she was never accepted by her own family.

0:24:440:24:47

They were... They were ashamed of who she was

0:24:470:24:51

and she was punished and eventually, you know,

0:24:510:24:55

she couldn't live there any more.

0:24:550:24:57

She couldn't... She couldn't be around any of her family

0:24:570:25:00

if she was dressed as Mercedes.

0:25:000:25:03

That was not allowed.

0:25:030:25:05

Her father would not accept it.

0:25:070:25:09

It's Leviticus 18:22.

0:25:140:25:17

"Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind.

0:25:170:25:20

"It is abomination.

0:25:200:25:23

"But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom,

0:25:230:25:26

"compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people..."

0:25:260:25:29

In the beginning, God created Adam and Eve.

0:25:290:25:32

He didn't create two men, he didn't create two women.

0:25:320:25:35

Even in the Bible, it says that, you know,

0:25:370:25:40

homosexuality is a sin punishable by death.

0:25:400:25:43

I can't believe that for two months...

0:25:480:25:52

..I was kissing...

0:25:540:25:56

..a man, I was laying down with a man.

0:25:560:26:03

I was holding hands with a man.

0:26:030:26:05

I was getting blow jobs from a guy.

0:26:080:26:11

I mean...

0:26:150:26:17

It would be very viable in this community

0:26:250:26:29

to have a defence of, you know, "I didn't know,

0:26:290:26:35

"I thought I was with a girl."

0:26:350:26:38

He's groping her and suddenly, he says, he feels...

0:26:390:26:43

He actually called it "cock and balls," to me.

0:26:430:26:46

"I see red, I feel a penis and...go nuts."

0:26:460:26:52

A large portion of this state

0:26:540:26:58

would completely understand and condone.

0:26:580:27:02

If Josh had gone to trial and claimed that he had penis panic...

0:27:040:27:10

..it wouldn't take but one or two jurors to get him off

0:27:120:27:17

and I believe that could easily have happened.

0:27:170:27:20

As a prosecutor,

0:27:240:27:26

your job is not to put yourself in the shoes

0:27:260:27:28

of a defendant or a victim,

0:27:280:27:31

but it's almost impossible not to do that,

0:27:310:27:34

in order to try to present your case effectively to a jury.

0:27:340:27:38

We normally get called right after a body is discovered.

0:27:380:27:41

I can remember the first details of the case coming out...

0:27:410:27:45

..were kind of, you know, shocking.

0:27:450:27:47

I think that was the first thing I remember asking myself -

0:27:470:27:50

something just doesn't seem right about this.

0:27:500:27:53

Normally, a person who is charged with first-degree murder

0:27:530:27:56

does not usually plead guilty

0:27:560:27:58

because the only sentence in Mississippi is life.

0:27:580:28:01

And so a person would rather roll the dice at trial

0:28:020:28:06

and maybe hope that they wouldn't get all 12 to agree

0:28:060:28:10

that they're guilty or maybe hope for a lesser sentence

0:28:100:28:13

on a manslaughter charge.

0:28:130:28:15

There is actually several reasons why I pled guilty.

0:28:150:28:19

I didn't want to drag my family and my friends into it

0:28:190:28:23

that had been subpoenaed.

0:28:230:28:24

My dad would have had to have listened

0:28:240:28:26

to everything that they're going to say against me.

0:28:260:28:29

I didn't want to have to hear it

0:28:290:28:31

and I didn't want my dad and my brother

0:28:310:28:33

and my friends to have to hear it.

0:28:330:28:36

I killed Mercedes Williamson, sir.

0:28:360:28:38

I think he was trying to prevent all of the information

0:28:400:28:43

that we would put on at trial as evidence of guilt,

0:28:430:28:46

I think he was trying to prevent all of that from coming out.

0:28:460:28:49

And sentence you to life in prison

0:28:490:28:50

in the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

0:28:500:28:52

Court is adjourned, thank you.

0:28:520:28:54

GAVEL BANGS

0:28:540:28:55

My first impression is,

0:29:180:29:19

"Hey, Josh made a mistake and is wanting to do the right thing

0:29:190:29:22

"and he killed somebody in a crime of passion."

0:29:220:29:24

The whole story was believable up to the point that, you know,

0:29:270:29:31

there was that a-ha moment where something just doesn't sound right.

0:29:310:29:35

Do you have a phone number?

0:29:350:29:37

I don't have a phone any more.

0:29:370:29:40

When... When...

0:29:400:29:42

I didn't make this clear to y'all.

0:29:420:29:45

I'm affiliated. You might know that.

0:29:460:29:49

As time went on, he had slipped up in the interview

0:29:490:29:52

and said that he was a high-ranking member of the Latin Kings

0:29:520:29:57

and that's when we kind of homed in on, "OK, what is your role?"

0:29:570:30:02

Is there anything that you may want to reveal

0:30:020:30:07

about maybe the Latin Kings?

0:30:070:30:08

-No.

-Anything?

-No.

0:30:080:30:10

They had nothing to do with this...

0:30:100:30:12

Yeah, I understand that.

0:30:120:30:14

It shouldn't affect them whatsoever.

0:30:140:30:16

-OK.

-Um...

0:30:160:30:18

I'm...I'm not a traitor.

0:30:180:30:20

He's already confessed to murder,

0:30:240:30:26

but whenever we asked him a certain question about the gangs,

0:30:260:30:29

he's like, "I'm not talking any more.

0:30:290:30:31

"I'm done talking."

0:30:310:30:34

And that's when I knew something wasn't right.

0:30:340:30:37

I'm trying not to conflict my morals.

0:30:370:30:39

I've already done that by doing that.

0:30:390:30:41

I told you, I wasn't going to...

0:30:410:30:43

-OK.

-I'm just trying to help, that's all I'm trying to do.

0:30:430:30:47

He's lying. He's covering something up.

0:30:470:30:50

I'm trying to find out who Mercedes is, so I can...

0:30:500:30:56

They don't know her, though.

0:30:560:30:58

They never met her.

0:30:580:31:00

-OK.

-I mean, no, none of my people ever met her.

0:31:000:31:05

I've been a Latin King for ten years now

0:31:070:31:10

and it is a part of who I am.

0:31:100:31:15

It's changed me for the better.

0:31:150:31:18

I don't know how to not be a Latin King.

0:31:180:31:20

King Chaos.

0:31:240:31:26

Our government calls it a gang.

0:31:260:31:29

It's more like a religion to us.

0:31:320:31:34

We strive for peace, freedom, justice, progress and prosperity.

0:31:340:31:37

All of my friends are members of the nation.

0:31:390:31:41

And I live Kingism every single day.

0:31:430:31:46

It's always nice when I do run into one of my brothers in prison

0:31:500:31:54

because it's like I have an instant family member right there.

0:31:540:31:57

I think the gang was everything to Josh Vallum.

0:32:000:32:03

He was in charge of a lot of different aspects of the gang.

0:32:030:32:08

The crimes that I have seen committed

0:32:080:32:11

by Latin King members have been violent.

0:32:110:32:14

Armed robberies, home invasions, burglaries, murder.

0:32:150:32:21

Some Latin King members try to portray the group

0:32:210:32:24

as a group of individuals who do good in the community

0:32:240:32:29

and maybe some do, but I've never encountered a Latin King bake sale.

0:32:290:32:35

There was a violent tendency to the gang.

0:32:350:32:38

KOS is a real term that they use - "kill on sight".

0:32:380:32:42

It means just what it sounds like - kill on sight.

0:32:420:32:44

I think when Josh joined that gang, you know,

0:32:520:32:56

he just wanted to feel accepted into something.

0:32:560:33:00

I had a pretty good childhood.

0:33:030:33:06

I watched Disney movies up until I was about ten.

0:33:060:33:08

So I guess I was kind of sheltered from the world

0:33:100:33:12

a little bit, for a while.

0:33:120:33:13

My mom, she was a good mom.

0:33:150:33:17

She was really big on being the perfect housewife.

0:33:170:33:22

This is at his third birthday party.

0:33:230:33:26

I just made him a little cake.

0:33:280:33:31

Things started going downhill when I got in middle school.

0:33:330:33:36

My parents started drifting apart

0:33:360:33:40

and, um...

0:33:400:33:42

..my mom ended up going to prison.

0:33:450:33:47

I just thought I could do a little bit of drugs, and I couldn't.

0:33:490:33:53

The devil tells us and we have free will

0:33:540:33:58

to either choose what God would have us to do

0:33:580:34:02

or fall to the temptation, which is what I did.

0:34:020:34:06

I always tried to make sure my children felt loved.

0:34:080:34:12

But then again, you know, I had a drug problem.

0:34:130:34:16

I think that he joined the gang

0:34:210:34:24

so he could feel like he was a part of something bigger than himself.

0:34:240:34:27

He didn't realise what he was actually getting into.

0:34:270:34:32

But once you're in it, you can't get out.

0:34:320:34:34

In this line of work, people lie to you.

0:34:380:34:41

Even if they confess to a crime,

0:34:410:34:43

they may not totally confess to the crime.

0:34:430:34:45

They may tell you what they think you want to hear.

0:34:450:34:48

We continued to do our investigation,

0:34:490:34:51

trying to figure out what the motive was.

0:34:510:34:53

I was travelling back to my office

0:34:580:34:59

when I got a phone call from the FBI task force

0:34:590:35:02

that informed me they had located Josh Vallum's car in Gautier.

0:35:020:35:08

That's it, right there.

0:35:090:35:11

5656, right there.

0:35:120:35:15

That's the house.

0:35:150:35:16

The house was a known Latin Kings hang-out, possibly a headquarters.

0:35:180:35:24

The SWAT team was called in.

0:35:240:35:26

The SWAT team came across some Latin King gang literature, their Bible,

0:35:270:35:34

how the organisation is set up.

0:35:340:35:36

The dos and don'ts and things you can and cannot do.

0:35:360:35:39

It was such an important piece of information and intelligence to get.

0:35:400:35:44

One of the laws of this particular chapter

0:35:470:35:50

of the Latin King street gang,

0:35:500:35:53

number 21, is no members should be involved in homosexual activities.

0:35:530:35:58

And, obviously, that was the law

0:35:580:36:00

that Josh Vallum was most concerned about in this case.

0:36:000:36:03

We're on Biloxi Beach.

0:36:060:36:09

This is where Josh came.

0:36:090:36:12

The Latin Kings, his gang, the gang he loved,

0:36:120:36:16

this is where they would come and have their parties

0:36:160:36:21

and he brings Mercedes here.

0:36:210:36:23

She hangs out with the whole gang.

0:36:230:36:27

It's crazy that he would think that it would be OK

0:36:290:36:32

to bring a transgender girl.

0:36:320:36:36

Chief among their bylaws - no homosexuality.

0:36:360:36:41

It's not allowed. You pay a price if you do it.

0:36:410:36:44

This is the gang.

0:36:440:36:46

And right here is Josh arm in arm with Mercedes.

0:36:460:36:52

They'll kill him for the very person he's standing beside.

0:36:530:36:56

But I believe he loved her.

0:36:590:37:00

And he wanted her to be a part of that family.

0:37:020:37:04

Mercedes talked openly, in front of Josh, in front of friends,

0:37:050:37:10

that, you know, she would be killed

0:37:100:37:13

and he would too - if the gang found out.

0:37:130:37:18

"The wrath of a King is as a messenger of death."

0:37:180:37:21

She said that she went to a meeting.

0:37:260:37:28

From what Michael told me, though, it was nothing but hate.

0:37:280:37:33

Like, they didn't talk about anything nice.

0:37:330:37:37

The gang was actually giving Josh negative vibes and stuff like that.

0:37:370:37:44

They were catching on that Mercedes was Michael.

0:37:440:37:49

Michael had told me if the gang finds out

0:37:510:37:55

that Michael is a guy, then they would hurt him.

0:37:550:38:00

That's what Josh told him.

0:38:000:38:02

If I had known that Mercedes was a guy,

0:38:060:38:08

I would have never, EVER brought Mercedes to meet any of my brothers.

0:38:080:38:14

I mean, because that's a no-no.

0:38:160:38:18

I mean, I was just... I was completely fooled.

0:38:180:38:20

They were fooled. Nobody knew anything.

0:38:200:38:23

In fact, somebody had indicated at the party to Josh

0:38:260:38:28

that "your girlfriend has broad shoulders

0:38:280:38:31

"and it looks like she has an Adam's apple,"

0:38:310:38:33

and Josh actually made an excuse for it.

0:38:330:38:35

I mean, one of my brothers said something, you know,

0:38:350:38:38

"Hey, Mercedes has got some broad shoulders..."

0:38:380:38:41

I mean, I had noticed, I was like,

0:38:430:38:45

"You know, you kind of have some broad shoulders."

0:38:450:38:47

"Oh, well, I've got hormone problems."

0:38:470:38:49

I mean, that was what I was told.

0:38:490:38:51

There's no doubt they were playing with fire.

0:38:510:38:55

This is my old house that I lived at and Michael moved in with me.

0:38:580:39:04

We would...

0:39:060:39:07

..play with Barbies all the time.

0:39:090:39:11

And I know that's pretty lame,

0:39:110:39:12

but we did that every time we were bored.

0:39:120:39:15

We would paint each other's nails, brush each other's hair.

0:39:150:39:18

I'd straighten his hair all the time.

0:39:180:39:19

I'd get him to do my make-up because he always looked flawless

0:39:190:39:22

and I looked like a toddler drawing crayon on my face.

0:39:220:39:26

There was plenty of times where Michael would tell me

0:39:280:39:31

that Josh was coming to pick him up

0:39:310:39:33

and he would park right over there, so Michael would leave the house,

0:39:330:39:37

go meet up with Josh, they would go have sex

0:39:370:39:40

and then they'd come back and Michael would tell me all about it.

0:39:400:39:45

He would just be like, "You'll never guess how."

0:39:450:39:47

And I'm like,

0:39:470:39:49

"How, Michael?" He'd be like, "I was in his back seat, bent over."

0:39:490:39:54

Josh would be like, "You can only imagine

0:39:540:39:56

"all the things that I've done to Michael."

0:39:560:39:58

And I would get grossed out, but he would just...

0:39:590:40:03

Josh would just keep on and keep on throwing jokes at me about it

0:40:030:40:06

and I'm just like, "You're going to make me sick, dude."

0:40:060:40:10

That's all they ever talked about.

0:40:100:40:13

Michael would show me pictures that Josh sent him

0:40:140:40:17

and show me text messages that Josh would send him.

0:40:170:40:20

Michael told me they had sex all the time.

0:40:210:40:24

Every time they hung out, they had sex,

0:40:240:40:26

that's what Michael would tell me.

0:40:260:40:27

So I know for a fact that he's lying.

0:40:270:40:31

I can understand that some people

0:40:360:40:40

might be involved in a homosexual relationship and then...

0:40:400:40:47

..become nervous or scared for some reason...

0:40:490:40:52

..and react violently or do something.

0:40:540:40:59

That's not what happened in my circumstances.

0:40:590:41:02

It was like this person lied to me about who they were.

0:41:040:41:08

Josh killed Mercedes because he was in violation of law number 21.

0:41:110:41:15

He was engaged in a homosexual relationship.

0:41:150:41:18

Not only that he was engaged in this relationship with Mercedes,

0:41:180:41:22

but, you know, God forbid, he was in love with her.

0:41:220:41:25

I am confident that Josh Vallum killed Mercedes

0:41:260:41:30

because of his gang membership,

0:41:300:41:32

because of what the Latin Kings stood for,

0:41:320:41:35

because of what the Latin Kings believed

0:41:350:41:37

and because of what he feared the Latin Kings may do to him.

0:41:370:41:41

I'm not a cold-blooded killer.

0:41:440:41:45

I'm not a hateful person.

0:41:470:41:51

I mean, I'm friendly to everybody.

0:41:510:41:53

And I've been made out to be this horrible person...

0:41:570:42:01

..who killed somebody just because they were transsexual

0:42:030:42:07

or because my gang ordered me to,

0:42:070:42:10

to cover up... Whatever they're trying to say...

0:42:100:42:14

They're trying to say so many different things,

0:42:160:42:18

they can't even collaborate their story.

0:42:180:42:21

They're saying that my gang ordered me to kill this person

0:42:210:42:24

and then they're saying that I killed Mercedes

0:42:240:42:26

to cover up a homosexual relationship.

0:42:260:42:30

They don't even know what's going on.

0:42:300:42:32

I'm not the person that I've been made out to be.

0:42:370:42:40

Once we got more information,

0:42:400:42:42

including the data download from his phone,

0:42:420:42:45

we really felt like it was more of a planned murder.

0:42:450:42:50

The phone just basically was a treasure trove

0:42:500:42:53

of photographs of men's penises

0:42:530:42:56

and pornographic websites that he went to,

0:42:560:43:00

easily over 50 pictures of different males with their penises exposed

0:43:000:43:05

and they were still on his phone, so when we do a data dump,

0:43:050:43:08

we're able to collect all that data.

0:43:080:43:10

So the fact that he did say trans panic or penis panic,

0:43:100:43:14

you know, I just don't believe it.

0:43:140:43:17

I think he was trying to prevent all of the information

0:43:200:43:23

that we would put on at trial as evidence of guilt,

0:43:230:43:26

I think he's trying to prevent all of that from coming out in the open

0:43:260:43:29

even though much of it came out during the hearing.

0:43:290:43:31

I've wrote my dad letters.

0:43:400:43:43

I've pretty much just pleaded with him

0:43:430:43:47

to please ignore all of the bad stuff that they're saying about me.

0:43:470:43:54

Maybe I can have a chance to explain to him

0:43:540:43:57

or talk to him a little bit about it.

0:43:570:44:00

Because my dad's opinion of me is very important to me.

0:44:000:44:04

Well, you know, I can never even get a picture of you again.

0:44:120:44:16

Cameras are not allowed, I can never even get a picture of you.

0:44:160:44:21

Ever.

0:44:210:44:23

Well, you know, I really need pictures to kind of carry history.

0:44:280:44:34

This is what they looked like when they were this age,

0:44:340:44:37

what they looked like when they're this age

0:44:370:44:39

when shit's over. Yeah.

0:44:390:44:42

Everything that's coming out

0:44:420:44:45

is assumptions that the district attorney has made

0:44:450:44:50

in his wild imagination.

0:44:500:44:52

So, what actually was read...

0:44:550:44:58

I told you the FBI planted stuff on my phone.

0:44:580:45:00

What they sent me, on them pictures and stuff, I didn't download.

0:45:010:45:07

They have no way of proving that you actually downloaded that stuff

0:45:070:45:12

on that phone, because that phone was not under your lock and key.

0:45:120:45:16

..It's circumstantial.

0:45:160:45:19

I guess they didn't feel like what I said held any weight

0:45:190:45:24

or they... Cos the piece of paper said that they could submit me

0:45:240:45:29

to a lie detector test and I said,

0:45:290:45:31

"Why don't you just go ahead and hook me up to a lie detector?

0:45:310:45:34

"That way, we ain't got to worry about nothing."

0:45:340:45:37

"Well, we've got to go through all this protocol and procedures

0:45:370:45:40

"and stuff, to do that."

0:45:400:45:42

-I love you.

-I love you too.

-I'll try to help you the best I can.

0:45:460:45:51

I guess Dad got upset.

0:45:550:45:57

Oh, he just...

0:45:570:46:00

He can only deal with it so much.

0:46:000:46:02

-Yeah, I know.

-So, I mean, he actually took it pretty hard.

0:46:020:46:08

Yeah, I bet.

0:46:080:46:10

VOICEOVER: Any time that I kind of try to talk about it,

0:46:130:46:16

he wants to change the subject.

0:46:160:46:18

I don't know if it's because he's disgusted by me

0:46:200:46:24

or by what happened. I mean, I just don't know.

0:46:240:46:27

Nobody knows what's going to happen in prison from day-to-day.

0:46:410:46:44

But I am cautious and worried.

0:46:460:46:49

Expecting my brothers to react a certain way to me

0:46:520:46:58

and having them react in a totally different way

0:46:580:47:01

if they believe that I'm a homosexual.

0:47:010:47:05

It's going to be really hard for me.

0:47:070:47:08

I mean, it depends on who I'm around and where I'm at.

0:47:120:47:15

But because of the bad light that this has shed on the nation,

0:47:150:47:20

they might feel that, you know, more punishment is necessary.

0:47:200:47:24

Cowboy long way, bro.

0:47:240:47:26

One time. Ace-deuce to the world, bro. Let's rock.

0:47:260:47:29

-INTERVIEWER:

-Do you think your life might be in danger?

0:47:290:47:32

I really can't answer that question.

0:47:530:47:56

After Mercedes was killed and cremated,

0:48:240:48:28

the father just said, you know, "Here, you can have the ashes.

0:48:280:48:34

"Can't afford a memorial service. We're just not doing that."

0:48:340:48:37

Her remains are still sitting in a box,

0:48:390:48:43

a little black box at a friend's house.

0:48:430:48:47

Even her friends, some had set up a memorial page for her,

0:48:490:48:53

and, you know, they did not dare want to speak

0:48:530:48:57

about who Mercedes was.

0:48:570:49:00

So everybody kind of lives in a shell.

0:49:000:49:03

There are people that are members of this community

0:49:050:49:12

that, you know, are gay, but they're still good and decent people.

0:49:120:49:19

It's not an easy life if you're different in the South.

0:49:200:49:25

I'm different.

0:49:280:49:29

And I'm just trying to live my life - like everybody else.

0:49:300:49:33

He begins to flood your life with His mercy.

0:49:420:49:45

He begins to flood your life with His grace.

0:49:450:49:49

All that stuff that the devil tried to destroy in your life,

0:49:490:49:52

God is now restoring those things.

0:49:520:49:55

Father, I thank you for my sister, Lord.

0:50:010:50:04

She's interceding and standing in for her son.

0:50:040:50:07

Lord, well, there are so many people going to jail

0:50:080:50:12

-and by a miracle come out...

-Yes, Lord.

0:50:120:50:16

So while he's in there, don't let him go.

0:50:160:50:18

Be strong and powerful.

0:50:180:50:20

Make the devil hate that he ever even messed with you.

0:50:200:50:24

HE SINGS AN EXTENDED NOTE

0:50:240:50:27

APPLAUSE

0:50:290:50:31

God's word says it is a sin for a man to be with a man.

0:50:340:50:39

He says, in the end times, men will be with men,

0:50:390:50:43

women will be with women

0:50:430:50:44

and all kinds of perversions will be going on.

0:50:440:50:47

I asked Josh, I said, "Josh, look, I will love you no matter what.

0:50:490:50:54

"My love for you is unconditional."

0:50:540:50:56

You know, "If for some reason you were,

0:50:560:50:59

"or if you went both ways or whatever," you know,

0:50:590:51:01

"I would pray for you.

0:51:010:51:03

"I would not like it, but it would not change my love

0:51:030:51:06

"and respect for you anyway as a person."

0:51:060:51:09

He's like, "Mom, I am NOT gay!"

0:51:090:51:11

So, you know...

0:51:110:51:13

I believe him, you know? I know my son.

0:51:140:51:17

All this is part of the enemy's plan.

0:51:230:51:26

It's all pain and misery

0:51:260:51:32

and on the other side of the fence is God's love.

0:51:320:51:37

We are just a vapour in the wind here, you know,

0:51:400:51:43

or that's how long our life is.

0:51:430:51:44

It's nothing, it's like a flower

0:51:440:51:47

blooming and dying in a week, to God.

0:51:470:51:49

You know? And so...

0:51:490:51:51

..if he gets to heaven...

0:51:520:51:54

Jake, too. That's all I want - is for my children to get to heaven.

0:51:540:51:59

Being alone with myself and my thoughts...

0:52:090:52:12

..and the fact that I killed somebody...

0:52:140:52:18

..that I used to care about...

0:52:190:52:20

..it was too much for me

0:52:230:52:25

and I tried to hang myself in my cell.

0:52:250:52:29

I was hearing her voice and I could smell...

0:52:350:52:38

..this sickly sweet smell, like a dead body,

0:52:410:52:45

and I'd look up and Mercedes would be standing over me.

0:52:450:52:49

And I couldn't take it.

0:52:560:52:58

She had...

0:53:010:53:03

She had maggots coming out of her mouth.

0:53:050:53:07

Her lips were peeled back away from her teeth and stuff,

0:53:110:53:15

like she was partially decomposed.

0:53:150:53:18

"I'm never going to let you live this down.

0:53:250:53:27

"You killed me.

0:53:270:53:29

"I'm going to haunt you forever.

0:53:290:53:31

"I'm going to haunt you forever."

0:53:340:53:36

I mean, what is it like to live the rest of your life

0:53:390:53:42

knowing that you killed somebody that cared about you

0:53:420:53:46

and the fact of the matter is is that you cared about them?

0:53:460:53:49

They didn't trick you.

0:53:500:53:52

You just couldn't accept who you are.

0:53:520:53:54

He hated who HE was and by extension he hated her,

0:53:560:54:01

even though he loved her, too.

0:54:010:54:04

MUSIC: Love & Hate by Michael Kiwanuka

0:54:050:54:07

# Love and hate

0:54:070:54:10

# How much more are we supposed to tolerate?

0:54:100:54:14

# Can't you see there's more to me than my mistakes?

0:54:160:54:20

# Sometimes I get this feeling makes me hesitate

0:54:200:54:26

# I believe

0:54:300:54:32

# She won't take me somewhere I'm not supposed to be

0:54:320:54:39

# You can't steal the things that God has given me

0:54:390:54:43

# No more pain and no more shame and misery

0:54:450:54:49

# You can't take me down

0:54:520:54:55

# You can't break me down

0:54:550:54:58

# You can't take me down

0:54:580:55:00

# You can't break me down

0:55:040:55:06

# You can't take me down

0:55:060:55:09

# You can't break me down

0:55:090:55:12

# I can see a place of trouble

0:55:160:55:21

# And I'm on the verge

0:55:210:55:24

# For the love of everybody

0:55:270:55:31

# I did something wrong... #

0:55:310:55:34

A young man is led into court and sentenced to life for the savage murder of the woman he loved. The camera follows him into prison, where he starts to explain his story and how he reacted with blind rage when he found out a secret his girlfriend was holding from him. But is he telling the truth, and what really happened? Slowly his story unravels as more and more information is found out about him.

Filmed with amazing access to the killer in prison and in court, the film tells the story of a hate crime and the danger of being different in the USA. The film also traces the victim's story through speaking to the police, others who investigated the murder and those who were close to her.


Download Subtitles

SRT

ASS