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3 years after Yuma violent crime, community still mourns
About 30 family members and friends came together Tuesday night at a small ceremony honoring the memory of Amancio Corrales.
Held by his graveside at Desert Lawn Memorial Park, 1415 S. 1st Ave., the ceremony marked the three-year anniversary of Corrales' murder.
"It's important that they are here," said Amancio's sister, Fabiola Corrales of the people in attendance. "It's important to (the family) in a lot of ways."
Corrales' body was found the morning of May 6, 2005, snagged in reeds and floating in shallow water about 500 feet west of Paradise Cove with multiple stab wounds.
A passer-by saw articles of clothing and blood in the river and called authorities.
A gay man, Corrales, 23, was a cosmetologist who performed as a female impersonator known as Dalila.
Corrales lived in Phoenix and performed at a gay bar, Paco Paco Club, until the weekend he was killed - the same weekend he moved back to Yuma to live with his family.
He was dressed as a woman when his body was discovered. Authorities believe he had spent the night bar-hopping with friends.
Several members of the Corrales family attended the ceremony, including Amancio's other sister Coral and his parents Amancio and Maribel.
Michael H. Baughman, Amancio Project founder and media liaison for Corrales' family, spoke briefly at the start of the ceremony and gave an update on the court proceedings. He told the crowd that due to the sensitive nature of the case and with a trial beginning soon, he couldn't share much information.
The ceremony also featured Yuma singer Anne James, who sang a song she wrote especially for the occasion entitled "Amancio."
"I'm part of what I call the silent masses who are just sick and tired of hearing hate crimes," said James. "I was inspired by Amancio's story. It really broke my heart."
"It's a very beautiful song. It really touched me," said Fabiola Corrales, who fought back tears during James' performance.
Fabiola, following the observance, said she doesn't visit her brother's grave as much as she used to because it helps her think that he is still with her.
"Sometimes I like to think he is out of town, but when I come to my senses I come here and cry my eyes out," she said.
Baughman also gave the crowd an update on the documentary currently in production, "Gay American Heroes: The Amancio Project."
He said the film was going to feature four hate crimes from around the country, but producers have decided to focus on the Corrales murder because of the efforts of the group.
James Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6854.