Charleston, South Carolina, US – A man who obsessively stalked a woman for over two decades since boyhood before raping and killing her in 2003 says he is a transgender woman.
The inmate, who was wearing his victim’s underwear and pants when arrested and had used her credit card to purchase foam breasts and women’s clothing, now claims the “emotional” distraction of suppressing his gender identity in court put him in a state similar to “PMS” and caused him to confess to a crime he did not commit. He has requested that the South Carolina Department of Corrections (DOC) provide him with gender-affirming plastic surgery.
“If I had not been such an emotional basketcase I would have pled ‘not guilty’ and taken my chances with a jury trial,” Katheryn Brown, formerly known as Edmond Tennent Brown IV, wrote in a letter to The Post and Courier.
The 47-year-old inmate, who is serving a life sentence, claims his lawyer insisted he hide his gender identity issues in court. “If I had been able to dress the way that I would have felt more confident, I would have been dressed in a cream-colored Chanel skirt-suit with a pair of 4½-inch spike heel Jimmy Choos and make-up.”
Mr Brown IV claimed he was already using cross-sex hormones to feminize his appearance when he raped and strangled to death Mary Lynn Witherspoon, a 53-year-old French teacher.
Mr Brown IV had known the victim since he was 10-years-old; his father had dated Ms Witherspoon for a decade. Consumed with obsession, Mr Brown IV stalked Ms Witherspoon for the next 22 years until the day he raped and murdered her.
Believing she could handle the stalking and hoping to avoid getting someone she had known since his childhood in trouble, Ms Witherspoon opted not to call police, instead having a security system installed and purchasing pepper spray. However, the stalking escalated, and he went from lurking on the sidewalk outside her house to entering her backyard.
Months before the murder, Mr Brown IV broke into Ms Witherspoon’s laundry room and stole her underwear. While incarcerated on a charge of burglary for that incident, Mr Brown IV made a to-do list: Get a stun gun, “take care of MLW” and put her “on ice.”
On the day of Ms Witherspoon’s death, Mr Brown IV broke into her home and struggled with her in the foyer before managing to bind her hands and feet. He then raped and murdered her. The nude body of Ms Witherspoon was found in her bathtub by police after she failed to show up for her teaching job at Charlestowne Academy.
When arrested later that day, Mr Brown IV was wearing his victim’s underwear and pants, and had her house keys on his person. Charleston police also found her car keys in his possession, and the address on his driver’s license had been changed to Ms Witherspoon’s home address. He had charged foam breasts and women’s clothing, bought from a New York shop, to Ms Witherspoon’s credit card.
Still, Mr Brown IV insists that “someone else” must have seen him leave Ms Witherspoon’s house “and confronted her about her upcoming move to Paris, France.”
The inmate has repeatedly begged the state DOC to allow him to complete his transition by providing him with gender-affirming surgery. “I truly believe my outward appearance does not match or correspond with my inner self,” he wrote in a letter to the DOC.
“But as a female I would be complete and a productive member of society because I would actually be comfortable in my own skin.”
South Carolina law prohibits the use of state funds for gender-affirming procedures. If an inmate was taking cross-sex hormones prior to incarceration, the state DOC provides for the continued use of the drugs.
Mr Brown IV said his effort to transcend from his biological sex to a feminine gender identity led other inmates to attack him when he was first placed in prison, but they no longer bother him.
“She was probably the only person who was ever nice to him,” Jackie Olsen said of Ms Witherspoon, her late sister. Mr Brown IV was widely considered to be “odd” as a child. “Mary Lynn was kind to everybody. She was good to the core. She loved people and was truly kind to people.”
Ms Witherspoon’s tragic story was featured on the Investigation Discovery (ID) channel’s Obsession: Dark Desires as “Episode 10 Series 3: There’s Something About Mary Lynn.”
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