Why No One Has Been Charged With Murder in the Death of Islan Nettles

The 21-year-old transgender woman was viciously beaten in Harlem.

By Jamilah King Sep 17, 2013

Police investigating the beating death of Islan Nettles are asking for the public’s help in identifying the men who assaulted her in late August.

Nettles, a 21-year-old transgender woman, was walking with friends in Harlem when she was attacked by a group of men. She died days later at Harlem Hospital.

Police initially identified Paris Wilson, 20, of viciously attacking Nettles while yelling homophobic slurs. But DNA Info reports that the case has grown increasingly complicated:

At first, the case against Wilson appeared open-and-shut, but within a few days another Harlem man, apparently at the urging of Wilson’s friends and relatives, told detectives that he attacked Nettles.

Investigators scrambled to find evidence confirming his account or to discount it.

"He said he threw the punch, but could not provide anything else about what he did or did not do that night," a law enforcement source said. The source added that the man was extremely intoxicated that evening.

Authorities were prepared to completely discount his "confession," but then another witness stepped forward and claimed the second man was, in fact, the attacker.

District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. released a statement in which he vouched for patience. "As law enforcement officials, we want to make it very clear that this type of hatred and violence has no place in our city. (And) our primary objective is, as always, to make sure that justice is served."