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Brandon Teena

Brandon Teena


Brandon Teena


Brandon Teena was a 1993 murder victim whose death drew attention to discrimination and violence against transgendered person. Brandon Teena was a female who identified as a male. In 1993, Brandon Teena moved to Falls City, Nebraska, where he rented a room in the house of Lisa Lambert.

During this time, Brandon Teena befriended two ex-convicts, John Lotter and Marvin Nissen.


On December 19, 1993, Brandon Teena was arrested on charges of check forgery and detained in the portion of the Falls City jail as a female. When Marvin Nissen arrived to pick up Brandon Teena and discovered the person he thought was a male was biologically female. Subsequently, on Christmas Day Marvin Nissen and John Lotter forceably took Brandon Teena to a deserted area and raped her. Afterwards, Brandon Teena went to a hospital and reported the crime. During her questioning by sheriff Charles B. Laux, Brandon Teena found his questions to be insulting.


On December 30, Brandon Teena returned to the police station to conduct another interview about the rape. Seeing Marvin Nissen there, she left and took refuge in the house of Lisa Lambert. Subsequently, John Lotter and Marvin Nissen arrived at her house, where they killed Brandon Teena, Lisa Lambert and another person in the house, Phillip DeVine. They were subsequently arrested and charged with the murders.


Marvin Nissen accepted a plea bargain requiring him to testify against John Lotter in the murder trial concerning the death of Brandon Teena. During his testimony, Marvin Nissen said that while he had stabbed Brandon Teena, John Lotter was responsible for the shootings which killed all three people. John Lotter was subsequently sentenced to death, while Marvin Nissen was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the rape and for acting as an accessory to murder. However, in 2007 Marvin Nissen issued a statement taking sole responsibility for the death of Brandon Teena.


In 1997, a federal criminal lawsuit was filed against sheriff Charles B. Laux for civil rights violations against Brandon Teena which contributed to her death. Among other things, the sheriff was charged with violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. However, the district court hearing the case ruled that Charles B. Laux was not part of a conspiracy against Brandon Teena and had qualified immunity, since he did not have active knowledge of the events which were to transpire.


That same year, the mother of Brandon Teena, JoAnn Brandon, filed a lawsuit against sheriff Charles B. Laux for his failure to properly conduct a rape investigation, which she charged led directly to the murder of Brandon Teena. Richardson County was also the target of this litigation. Initially she won her case and was awarded a settlement of $80,000. On appeal but Laux and Richardson County, the amount of the verdict was reduced, then reinstated and increased by the Nebraska Supreme Court after JoAnn Brandon appealed.