A transgender woman whose case prompted renewed criticism of Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón’s policies after she was ordered to serve two years in juvenile custody for sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl in Palmdale pleaded not guilty this week to a murder charge in neighboring Kern County.
The criminal complaint—filed by the Kern County District Attorney’s Office—charges 26-year-old Hannah Tubbs under her birth name, James Edward Tubbs, with the April 21, 2019, murder and second-degree robbery of Michael Clark.
The body of the 22-year-old, College Place, Washington, man was found in the Kern River in August 2019, according to media reports.
Tubbs was being held in lieu of $1 million bail, and is due back in court May 20 in connection with the murder charge.
In February, Gascón conceded that Tubbs’ sentence in the Los Angeles County sexual assault case “may not” be adequate, and backed away from one of his most criticized directives that had eliminated the option of trying juveniles as adults for serious crimes.
LA County’s top prosecutor said in a statement in February that he became aware after Tubbs’ sentencing about “extremely troubling statements she made about her case, the resolution of it and the young girl that she harmed.”
“While for most people, several years of jail time is adequate, it may not be for Ms. Tubbs,” Gascón said of Tubbs, who was 17 at the time of the 2014 attack in the restroom of a Palmdale restaurant. Tubbs’ case was handled in juvenile court as a result of a directive the district attorney issued the day he was sworn into office.
Gascón noted that the defendant was arrested years after the crime “rather than the usual case, where a child is arrested close in time to their crime” and that Tubbs had “several charges in other counties after the juvenile offense but never received any services, which both her past behavior and that subsequent to her arrest demonstrates she clearly needs.”
Gascón—who is facing a recall effort by those who feel his reforms favor the interests of criminals over the safety of the public at large—subsequently acknowledged that Tubbs’ case would be handed in adult court if he had the opportunity to do things over again.