An indictment was handed down Thursday in the killing of Jorge Diaz-Johnston, the brother of former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz who was the plaintiff in a historic same-sex marriage lawsuit.
A circuit court in Leon County handed down the five count indictment against 37-year-old Steven Yinger, who faces charges including first-degree murder, tampering with evidence and grand theft.
According to the indictment, Yinger strangled the 54-year-old Diaz-Johnston at his Tallahassee home in early January before later dumping his body.
Diaz-Johnston's body was discovered January 8th in a Jackson County landfill.
Yinger has an extensive criminal history, including prison sentences for theft and cocaine distribution.
After the killing, Yinger used Diaz-Johnston's BMW, iPhone and cash, according to the indictment.
Husband Don Diaz-Johnston said Jorge had taken Yinger in as his roommate.
He said he and his husband had separated and were living apart but had been trying to work things out when he was murdered.
"It was shocking and horrifying to find out and as I said I still haven’t come to terms with the fact that my life has been turned completely upside down and ended all of our hopes and plans," Don Diaz Johnston said Friday. "To now be a part of this and have our marriage end this way is something we never saw coming and still frankly can’t accept."
Diaz-Johnston and his husband were plaintiffs in a historic lawsuit that led to the legalization of same-sex marriage in Miami-Dade.
Diaz-Johnston filed a lawsuit challenging Florida’s ban on same sex marriage in Miami-Dade in 2014 and told NBC 6 then why it was important.
“This is clearly for us. It’s not just a question of love and wanting to express it and have benefits everyone has in state. It's an issue of equality and it’s a civil rights issue,” Diaz-Johnston said.
A county judge ruled the ban unconstiutional a year before the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage.
“He was a powerful voice. He was a sensitive, thoughtful voice. It’s no easy thing to be a plaintiff in such a high profile case like that. You put your life on trial. He was game. He really helped change hearts and minds and we’re eternally grateful,” said Elizabeth Schwartz, who represented Diaz-Johnston and five other couples.
"I still can’t believe he’s gone. I’m still struggling with the reality of that. It's been tragic," Don Diaz-Johnston said.
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