Dismissal of manslaughter case angers transgender community

Kenne McFadden drowned after being pushed off River Walk

SAN ANTONIO – Transgender activists and supporters on Tuesday rallied around the mother of a transgender woman outside the Justice Center to speak out against last week’s dismissal of a manslaughter charge against the man accused in her daughter’s case.

In an interview prior to the noon news conference, Joann McFadden asked, “As a mother, I’m thinking: Where is the justice?”

She said Mark Daniel Lewis admitted to prosecutors that he pushed Kenne McFadden off the River Walk in April 2017. But she said the prosecutors presented the evidence in her daughter’s case during the bond revocation hearing for Lewis, who is a convicted sex offender.

“If they knew this was going to cause interference with Kenne’s case, it should never have been brought up,” she said. 

“I was shocked and felt a sense of exasperation that the man who pushed Kenne to her death would not be standing trial," said Ashley Smith, president of the San Antonio Transgender Association, a support group for trans people and their families. “Just on the face of it, our system did not work the way it should.”

In a statement last Friday, outgoing District Attorney Nico LaHood's office said:

"Kenneth “Kenne” McFadden’s death is a tragedy. Our office fought for justice for Kenne and sought to hold Mark Daniel Lewis accountable for his actions. Our prosecutors presented compelling evidence that we believed showed that Mark Daniel Lewis was guilty of Manslaughter. Unfortunately, the presiding judge disagreed and found the allegation that Lewis violated his probation “not true”. Due to the lower standard of proof in a Motion to Revoke Probation hearing, our office is legally unable to proceed with a full criminal trial against Mark Daniel Lewis. Our prayers remain with Kenne's family."

But Lauryn Farris, an outspoken transgender activist with the Transgender Education Network of Texas, said she believes LaHood’s conservative views led to the case being intentionally botched by his prosecutors.

“He’s really making a strong statement and, this time, it’s against justice for us,” Farris said.

LaHood fired back in another statement Wednesday saying,

“That's a ridiculous proposition and the furthest from the truth. Anyone who would make such an allegation should educate themselves on the legal hearing we were dealing with and the facts of the case. We had every intention of fully prosecuting the case and that is why we presented all the evidence we had to a Grand Jury and had the accused extradited to Bexar County.”

According to central booking records at the Bexar County Jail, Lewis is now being held on a $10,000 bond for violating his sex offender registration.

About the Author:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.