In a horrifying and disturbing case, a former teacher and prominent transgender activist, Dana Rivers, has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the brutal murder of a lesbian couple and their son.
The judge labeled it as the most depraved crime he had ever encountered in his 33 years in the criminal justice system.
“It is a horrible thing to sentence someone to die in prison, and I don’t take that lightly,” Judge Scott Patton said during the court hearing Thursday. “But this is the most depraved crime I ever handled in the criminal justice system in 33 years. Frankly, you deserve to spend the rest of your life in prison.”
On November 11, 2016, police responded to a distress call reporting gunshots fired outside the home of Charlotte Reed and Patricia Wright in Oakland, California. When authorities arrived, they discovered a scene of unimaginable horror. The bodies of Reed, Wright, and their son, Benny Diambu-Wright, were found inside the burning wreckage of their home. The victims had been subjected to a frenzied attack involving stabbing, bludgeoning, and gunshot wounds.
As police arrived at the scene, they encountered Dana Rivers attempting to flee on a black Harley Davidson motorcycle, covered in blood and gasoline, Los Angeles Times reported.
A search of Rivers’ person and the motorcycle led to the discovery of incriminating evidence, including a bloody knife and a screwdriver. Rivers was promptly arrested and taken into custody.
During the arrest, Rivers made spontaneous statements confessing to the murders, although later pleading not guilty to the charges of triple homicide. The motive behind the crime was revealed to be a mix of personal animus and anger towards Reed for leaving an all-female biker gang.
The trial of Dana Rivers began on October 31, 2022. Prosecutors presented overwhelming evidence of Rivers’ guilt, including DNA, witness testimonies, and the confession made during the arrest. Despite Rivers’ attempts to argue self-defense and later insanity, the jury found her guilty of the murders in November of the following year.
Rivers’ Background and Activism
Prior to the murders, Dana Rivers was known as a transgender activist with a controversial past. In 1999, Rivers made headlines when he was fired from Center High School in Sacramento County for openly discussing his sexuality and gender self-determination in the classroom. This led to a high-profile discrimination lawsuit and a subsequent settlement of $150,000.
Rivers’ activism extended beyond the courtroom. He became a keynote speaker for organizations advocating for transgender rights and served on the board of the International Foundation for Gender Education (IFGE). However, his history as an activist now stands in stark contrast to the heinous crimes he committed.