A transgender woman in Vancouver has been sentenced to life in prison without parole eligibility for 12 years after pleading guilty to the “savage” murder of her former boyfriend who had left her for another woman.
Zachary Waller, 21, was stabbed 32 times and beaten with a hammer as he lay tied and handcuffed to a bed June 1, 2010.
Thomas Roy Forster, 35, pleaded guilty Oct 11 to second-degree murder and was sentenced the next day, although the ruling was not released until Nov 9.
BC Supreme Court Justice Terence Schultes noted at the start of his ruling that “Ms Forster is a transgendered person who is in the process of becoming a woman and so at her request I will refer to her as being of that gender throughout these reasons.”
Schultes found that the pair had had a complex relationship for about three years.
“It involved sexual contact between them as well as Ms Forster providing money to Mr Waller on a regular basis,” Schultes said. “The relationship was volatile.”
The relationship had subsided until shortly before Waller’s death. He had begun another relationship with a woman who was unaware of his relationship with Forster.
The night before Waller’s death, the pair exchanged text messages. Forster invited Waller over for one last get-together, as she was planning to move to Toronto the next day and had a flight booked.
“There was reference by her to still having her handcuffs and, when Mr Waller asked how much she was going to give him, she referred to the ‘usual,’ but that if he made her ‘fantasy come true, maybe more,'” Schultes said.
Schultes said that Waller’s being tied to the bed was a common part of consensual activity between the two although it had the effect of rendering him unable to defend himself in this case.
Waller went to Forster’s apartment June 1, and sometime between 9:15 and 9:54am, she killed him.
After they had sex, Waller said he just wanted to be with his girlfriend, Schultes said.
“This crystallized for Ms Forster that the relationship was truly over, and it was with this sense of loss that she reached a breaking point, causing her to act,” he said.
“He was stabbed 32 times in the chest area, had multiple skull fractures, a broken nasal bone and upper teeth, as well as numerous cuts, abrasions and contusions to other parts of his body,” Schultes said. “Each of the stab wounds to his lungs, heart and aorta could have been fatal in itself.”
Knives and a hammer were found at the scene. The blade of one knife and the claws of the hammer had broken off, apparently during the attack.
“I would characterize this as a massive, frenzied and protracted explosion of violence at a sometime romantic partner following sexual contact, fuelled by anger at statements by the partner of his ongoing commitment to another woman,” the judge ruled.
“The breaking of two weapons during the killing gives some idea of the force applied and the tenacity of the murderous intent,” he added.
After the killing, Forster went to the home of the friend who had bought her the plane ticket to Toronto and admitted that she had killed Waller.
The friend gave Forster some money, and she went to the airport and attempted to change her departure to that day.
Her friend phoned 911 and Forster was arrested at the airport.
She had Waller’s cellphone and his blood was on some cash that she was carrying, as well as on various parts of her clothing. She was uninjured.
The court heard that Forster was born in Mexico but never knew her biological parents. Her adoptive mother died when she was 10. She had left her adopted father while in her teens and lived on the streets, becoming a male sex-trade worker in an area known for teenaged boys. She also became addicted to crack cocaine.
Forster tried to further her education and find employment but later resumed work in the sex trade. She worked as a transgender sex-trade worker, obtaining clients through ads placed on Craigslist.
The court was told that arguments and fights between Waller and Forster were common. Waller was at one point charged with assault, but the case did not proceed to trial.
The court heard that Waller had been living with Forster but that the relationship was similar to parasitic ones he had with others, both men and women.
The court heard that they had split up between 10 and 20 times and that he was abusive and used gay slurs against her.
Schultes said Forster’s lawyer noted “a complete absence of positive or supportive relationships in her life, leaving her with only a series of transactions in which others took advantage of her.
“She had begun the hormone therapy necessary for her gender change but was not yet connected to the transgender community in Vancouver, which presumably could have provided her with some support,” Schultes said.
“With only that lonely type of existence to compare it to and with a lack of normal social development, she regarded the relationship with Mr Waller as the best thing in her life, despite its shortcomings, and was seriously affected by its end,” the judge said.
Forster’s lawyer told Schultes that because of the stage she’s at in her transition, Forster may present as a woman but must be housed with male inmates due to her anatomical gender.
“This will make whatever time she spends in prison an even greater hardship than it would otherwise be,” Schultes said in his ruling.