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In brief

Vancouver & national news

STILL HOPE: Police need someone to come forward with information about the Aug 23 killing of West End gay man Edgar Leonardo. Credit: Xtra West files

NO LEADS IN WEST END MURDER



Police still don’t have any suspects in the Edgar Leonardo case, though the lead investigator says he hasn’t given up hope. Leonardo, who was gay, was murdered Aug 23; his landlady discovered his body in his Comox St apartment four days later. Det Richard Akin is reluctant to release many details, but he says the gay community doesn’t seem to be at risk. “There’s absolutely no evidence to support” the suggestion that Leonardo was killed by a predator who is now stalking gay men, he says. If there were any indication of a predator on the loose, Akin says he would certainly warn the public. But that doesn’t seem to be the case here, he reiterates. Akin has maintained all along that Leonardo was likely murdered by someone he met shortly before his death. Now, he hopes forensic test results will shed more light on the matter. In the meantime, Akin says he hasn’t received enough help from the public. He’s asking anyone who might have seen Leonardo on the evening of Aug 23, or early Aug 24, to contact him immediately at 604.717.2500, or to call CrimeStoppers at 604.669.8477. “I need a break [in this case],” he says.



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CRUISER STABBED AT SUNSET BEACH



Xtra West has learned that a man was stabbed two weeks ago while cruising on Sunset Beach. The man, who only identified himself as Tony, says his attacker followed him up and down the beach aggressively trying to strike up a conversation. When Tony refused, his attacker stabbed him in the shoulder. “Watch your backs,” Tony advises other Sunset Beach cruisers. “It’s not safe anymore.” Tony describes his attacker as a native man who may be homeless. He says other cruisers in the area did not respond to his calls for help.



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TRANS-POSITIVE RULING



A Prince George judge rejected a killer’s self-defence argument and found him guilty of manslaughter in the death of a transgendered woman, Oct 24. The judge ruled that Dale Eliaison killed Fay Paquette, a First Nations trans prostitute, on the night of Feb 4, 2002, after discovering Paquette had a penis. Eliaison testified in court that all he did was defend himself after Paquette suddenly jumped him with a knife-but Justice Peter Rogers didn’t buy it. He said there were too many “convenient” gaps in Eliaison’s evidence. It seems more likely, the judge ruled, that Eliaison became enraged when he saw Paquette’s penis and beat her to death. One of the key witnesses in the case was Eliaison’s mother.



She told police that her son admitted instigating the fight when she picked him up at work the day. “You can imagine how I felt; I just went wild,” Eliaison reportedly told her. He later told his brothers that the fight started over money (either Eliaison wanted his money back or Paquette asked for more). Then he told them how he stuffed Paquette’s body into the back of a van. Eliaison, 37, hit Paquette, 42, in the face more than 10 times, knocked out two of her teeth and covered her body with cuts and bruises. He will return to court for sentencing Nov 24.



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HIV DEMENTIA BREAKTHROUGH



Two researchers, one at the University of British Columbia and the other at the University of Calgary, made a breakthrough last week in their search for what causes the dementia that commonly afflicts people with HIV/AIDS. It’s their white blood cells, they say, that manufacture “killer enzymes” which then destroy brain neurons. The discovery opens the door to possible medication in the future. Now that they know which neural pathways are affected, the researchers say they can think of ways to target them with drugs. Still, it could be five to seven years before any such drugs will be available for prescription. For more information, Christopher Overall and Chris Power’s findings are in the Oct 1 issue of Nature Neuroscience.



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BIG COCKS BANNED



An Ottawa bar is feuding with local police after they were hit with a $610 fine despite the cancellation of their “Big Cock Contest.”



“The strangest part is when they said, ‘You’re not allowed to do this,’ we said, ‘Fine.’ We totally cooperated,” says Zadek Ramowski, co-owner of Ottawa’s Helsinki nightclub.



The contest was cancelled after the club was warned that it pushed their establishment too far into the realm of adult entertainment, which requires a different license.



Ramowski says that the contest would not have involved nudity. “At most somebody might take off their jeans or something, but no underwear will come off. This is more of a fun kind of thing than a sexually arousing kind of thing.”



But a week after the contest was to have taken place, Helsinki was fined anyway for a body-painting event that took its place.



Linda Anderson, Manager of enforcement and inspection of Ottawa’s bylaw branch, admits there is a grey area in what is considered adult entertainment. But she says that Helsinki was not targeted because it hosted a gay event.



“We would simply be doing follow-up inspection to make sure that they were complying,” says Anderson. “We do that with every bylaw.”



Stephen Brown, a professor of political science at the University of Ottawa, follows gay-rights issues across Canada. Brown says that incidents like this one aren’t common. But he adds that existing regulations are applied more strictly to gay establishments.



“It’s sort of the Al Capone approach,” says Brown. “You can’t get him for being a mobster, you get him for tax evasion. They want to crack down on places where sexuality is expressed freely, so they get them on liquor violations.”