Prosecutors seeking DNA sample in transgender teen's death

Prosecutors seek a court order to obtain a DNA sample from Joshua Vallum. File photo.

LUCEDALE, Miss. (AP) — Prosecutors are seeking a court order to obtain a DNA sample from a Lucedale man charged in the slaying of a transgender teen.

The Sun Herald reported that 28-year-old Joshua Vallum faces first-degree murder in the death of 17-year-old Mercedes Williamson, of Theodore, Alabama.

Officials said Vallum beat Williamson to death with a hammer while the two were in a car behind his father's home in May 2015. George County deputies found Williamson's partially decomposed body in a makeshift grave under some brush.

Vallum has pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutor Cherie Wade filed the motion requesting the DNA, saying the District Attorney's Office cannot adequately prepare for trial until the sample is collected. Wade said the sample would be sent to the State Crime Lab to compare it to possible blood stains found in Vallum's vehicle.

Williamson's death made national news last year when Caitlyn Jenner remembered her during an acceptance speech for the Arthur Ashe award at the ESPY awards.

Vallum's attorney, David Futch, has declined to comment. Vallum's trial is set for July 18.


Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.

The Gayly- 3/15/2016 @ 12:07 PM CST