A gang member is due in court on Monday to be sentenced under hate crime charges for the murder of a transgender teen, in the first ever transgender hate crime prosecution in the United States.

Joshua Vallum, 29, pleaded guilty in a Mississippi federal court to the 2015 murder of his former romantic partner, 17-year-old Mercedes Williamson, because she was transgender.

Vallum could be sentenced for life without parole when he appears on Monday afternoon before a federal judge in a Gulfport, Mississippi, courthouse.

Harper Jean Tobin, spokeswoman for the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), a Washington D.C. advocacy group, said the murder was part of an “epidemic of violence against transgender people” in the United States.

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