No charges to be filed over death of transgender teen Nex Benedict

The student died by suicide a day after being beaten by three students in a high school bathroom, but the district attorney considers the fight “mutual combat”.

Photo of Nex Benedict surrounded by candles and flowers, the article reports that no charges were filed after his death

An Oklahoma district attorney has decided not to file charges against the teenagers who allegedly assaulted Nex Benedict, a transgender student who died one day after being beaten by three older female students in an Owasso High School bathroom.

Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said that after reviewing the police investigation, he considers the physical altercation to have been “mutual combat”, so the teenagers involved will not face criminal charges.

Kunzweiler said: “When I review a report and make a decision to file a charge I must be convinced – as is every prosecutor – that a crime was committed and that I have reasonable belief that a judge or jury would be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed.”

According to body cam footage recorded at the hospital, Nex told police that he poured water on a group of three older female students in the bathroom after they picked on him. In response, the group reportedly attacked Nex and repeatedly beat his head against the floor until he blacked out.

The 16-year-old was examined in the Bailey Medical Center for his injuries and was later discharged. The day after the fight, Nex collapsed in his living room and was rushed back to hospital where he was declared dead.

A partial autopsy report released on March 13 disclosed that Nex died by suicide after taking a lethal mix of prescription and over-the-counter medication, but the medical examiner will release a full medical report next week.

Several activists have pointed to the fact that whether Nex died by suicide or head trauma, transphobia was largely responsible for his death.


While no charges have been filed, Nex’s death has increased awareness around anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in Oklahoma. The state has several homophobic and transphobic laws in place, and Nex had been bullied since 2023, the same year that Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt passed a law banning trans students from using the school bathroom that matches their gender identity. Furthermore, school superintendent, Ryan Walters, has repeatedly expressed anti-LGBTQ+ views.

GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis condemned the DA’s decision to not pursue criminal charges, sharing: “Time and time again, leaders in Oklahoma have showed that they don’t value Nex’s life, or the lives of other Indigenous and 2STGNC+ (Two Spirit, transgender, and gender-nonconforming+) students.”

Ellis added: “It is critical that an independent investigation is completed and the truth about what happened to Nex, and what all marginalised youth in Oklahoma schools endure, is brought to light. We will never stop seeking justice for Nex and we will never stop holding leaders accountable to serving their communities fairly and with compassion.”


If you have been affected by this story or are looking to reach out to someone for support, advice or just to talk, there are numerous services available for LGBTQ+ people, listed below, and many offer instant messaging support.

National LGBT+ Helpline
The Switchboard
Dublin Lesbian Line
Belong To
Pieta House
Mental Health Ireland
Garda Confidential Line

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