Jalen Brown (Credit: Athens-Clarke County Sheriff's Office)

Man claims self-defense in transgender teen’s shooting death, faces murder charge

Despite his claim of self-defense, a man has been charged with murder in the weekend shooting death of a teenager, officials said.

Jalen Breon Brown and RayQuann Deonte Jernigan got in a fight Sunday morning in the parking lot of the Riverview Apartments in Athens, Athens-Clarke police spokesman Epifanio Rodriguez said. It’s not clear why they were fighting.

At some point, Brown, 21, pulled out a gun and shot Jernigan in the chest, Rodriguez said. 

Brown said he was defending himself, according to police, who identified the victim and the suspect as men.

Jernigan, a 17-year-old transgender woman who was known to friends and family as Ava Le’Ray Barrin, was taken to a nearby hospital, where she died. 

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According to an online obituary, Barrin “made the decision to reveal to her closest loved ones; friends, and those around her that RayQuann was actually Ava Le’Ray Barrin. A brave young woman who feared nothing; nobody, and especially not being herself.”

The two knew each other, but no motives have been established.

“It was just an argument that escalated,” Rodriguez said.

Brown is in the Athens-Clarke County jail on murder and aggravated assault charges with no bond, according to jail records. 

Family and friends held a vigil for Barrin on Monday.

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