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Man accused of murdering New West trans woman to stand trial

Judge rules sufficient evidence to warrant a trial

Charles Neel will stand trial for murder in connection with the killing of January Marie Lapuz, pictured. Credit:

The man accused of second-degree murder in connection with the Sept 29 death of a New Westminster transgender woman will go on trial by judge and jury June 9 to 16, 2014.

Charles Jameson “Jamie” Mungo Neel, 20, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of January Marie Lapuz.

Lapuz was fatally stabbed in her New Westminster home last fall. She was rushed to hospital but died a few hours later.

A preliminary hearing for Neel took place in New Westminster Provincial Court in early June.

After hearing from witnesses and the presentation of evidence, preliminary hearing Judge Therese Alexander ruled the case should go to trial.

Preliminary hearing details are covered by a publication ban.

Neel has been in custody since his initial bail hearing on Dec 6.

Spokespeople for the RCMP's integrated homicide investigation team told Xtra that hate did not appear to be a motive in the case.

Prosecutor Rusty Antonuk told Xtra in June that he would not be seeking a hate-motivation ruling in the case. "No indication of hate involved," he said outside court.

More than 80 trans people and their allies attended a Jan 5 rally in front of New Westminster City Hall and the courthouse to demand "Justice for January." 

Born in the Philippines, Lapuz was considered a shining light by many within Sher Vancouver, a support network for South Asian gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people.

She was also known to have experienced an occasionally difficult life on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and to work in the sex trade.