2024-04-18 00:55:49
Man guilty of killing transgender woman in historic hate crime trial - Democratic Voice USA
Man guilty of killing transgender woman in historic hate crime trial

A federal jury found a South Carolina man guilty Friday of killing a Black transgender woman, marking the first conviction at federal trial for a hate crime motivated by gender identity, according to authorities.

The jury unanimously found Daqua Lameek Ritter guilty of a hate crime, a firearms charge and obstruction for the 2019 fatal shooting of Dime Doe, a 24-year-old transgender woman, the Justice Department announced Saturday.

Ritter lured Doe to a remote area in Allendale, S.C., and shot her three times in the head, prosecutors alleged. Ritter was upset after he learned rumors had spread in his community about a sexual relationship between him and Doe, and he killed Doe because of her gender identity, according to the Justice Department.

Officials hailed the conviction as historic. Until Ritter’s case, no federal hate-crime case based on gender identity had reached a guilty verdict by trial, according to the Justice Department.

Ritter faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.

“We want the Black trans community to know that you are seen and heard, that we stand with the LGBTQI+ community, and that we will use every tool available to seek justice for victims and their families,” Justice Department Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said in the department’s news release.

Joshua Kendrick, an attorney for Ritter, told The Washington Post he was disappointed in the verdict. He denied that Ritter committed the murder and said there were inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case against Ritter.

“We’re not going to stop working for our client,” Kendrick said.

The 2009 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act created a federal law criminalizing violent acts against people due to their religion, nationality, gender, sexual orientation or disability. The law gave, among other things, federal authorities greater flexibility to prosecute hate crimes that local authorities choose not to pursue, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. But prosecutors did not pursue a case centered on a victim’s gender identity until several years after the law’s enactment.

The first such case, also over the murder of a transgender woman, did not reach trial: In 2016, a Mississippi man pleaded guilty to killing Mercedes Williamson in 2015 because she was transgender. He was sentenced to 49 years in prison.

Doe had been found slumped over the steering wheel of her car with gunshot wounds in August 2019, the Post and Courier reported. South Carolina-based social justice organization Alliance For Full Acceptance said at the time that Doe was the fourth Black transgender woman to be killed in a two-year period in the state and called the killings a “state of emergency.”

During Ritter’s four-day trial, prosecutors used witnesses and text messages to describe a secret relationship between Ritter and Doe that grew tense shortly before Doe’s death when Ritter’s girlfriend, another woman, learned of the affair and called Ritter a homophobic slur, the Associated Press reported.

Prosecutors also presented footage from a traffic stop hours before Doe was found dead in her car that showed a person with a tattoo matching Ritter’s in the vehicle with Doe.

Defense attorneys argued in the trial that no physical evidence pointed to Ritter as the killer and questioned the reliability of witnesses who claimed Ritter was acting strangely in the days after the killing, according to the AP.

Ritter’s sentencing hearing will be scheduled at a later date.

Source link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2024/02/24/federal-hate-crime-trial-historic/

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