The roommate of a Florida gay rights activist whose body was found in a Florida landfill in January has been charged with murder.
Steven Yinger strangled Jorge Diaz-Johnston at his Tallahassee home and dumped his body, which was later found in a pile of trash at a landfill in Baker, Florida, about 60 miles east of the border of Alabama, according to an indictment issued by a circuit court. in Leon County.
Yinger faces charges of first-degree murder, tampering with evidence and robbery, according to the five-count indictment. After disposing of Diaz-Johnston’s body, Yinger allegedly used his BMW, iPhone and cash. The 36-year-old suspect has a long criminal history dating back to 2004, which includes prison sentences for theft and distribution of cocaine, according to public records. He is currently being held in Leon County Jail without bond.
An attorney representing Yinger did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment.
When Diaz-Johnston’s body was found, he and her husband, Don Diaz-Johnston, had been separated and were living apart, Don Diaz-Johnston told NBC Miami.
“It was shocking and horrifying to find out…I still haven’t come to terms with the fact that my life has been completely changed, and it has turned everything upside down and ended all of our hopes and plans,” Don Diaz said. -Johnston. said after last week’s indictment. “To now be a part of this and see our marriage end this way is something I never saw coming and frankly cannot accept.”
Diaz-Johnston’s death sent shockwaves through the LGBTQ community when her body was found.
The 54-year-old victim, who is the brother of former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, and her husband were instrumental in legalizing same-sex marriage in Florida. In 2014, the pair, along with five other same-sex couples, sued the Miami-Dade County Clerk’s Office after being barred from getting married.
“For us, it’s not just about love and wanting to express our love and have the benefits that everyone has in the state, but it’s about equality, and it’s a civil rights issue,” said Jorge Diaz-Johnston. NBC Miami at the time.
A Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge ruled in favor of the couples, and same-sex marriages were performed in the county beginning in January 2015, five months before the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
“It was a powerful voice. It was a sensitive and thoughtful voice,” Elizabeth Schwartz, who represented Diaz-Johnston and the other five couples, told NBC Miami after Diaz-Johnston’s body was discovered. “It’s not easy being a plaintiff in such a high profile case like this. You’re putting your life on the line. He was in on it. He really helped change hearts and minds and we’ll be with him forever. grateful.”
Shortly after winning their case, Jorge and Don Diaz-Johnston married in March 2015, according to public records.
“I still can’t believe he’s gone. I still struggle with the reality of that. It’s tragic,” Don Diaz-Johnston said after charges were filed against Yinger.
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