Man Convicted in Transgender Woman’s Killing in First Federal Trial of Its Kind

A South Carolina man was found guilty on Friday in the killing of a transgender woman in what the authorities said was the first federal murder trial of someone charged with a hate crime based on gender identity.

After deliberating for several hours, jurors found the man, Daqua Lameek Ritter, guilty of a hate crime in the murder of the woman, Dime Doe, in 2019.

“It stands as a testament to our commitment to prosecute these crimes,” said Brook Andrews, the first assistant United States attorney for the District of South Carolina. “It also stands as a reminder that Dime’s life mattered. It’s a tremendous result for us and the people in that community.”

Federal officials have previously prosecuted hate crimes based on gender identity.

A Mississippi man received a 49-year prison sentence in 2017 as part of a plea deal after he admitted to killing a 17-year-old transgender woman. However, this is the first murder case in the country to make it to trial where someone was charged with a hate crime based on gender identity, Mr. Andrews said.

Mr. Ritter, who was also found guilty of obstructing justice and using a firearm in connection with the killing, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole. A sentencing date has not been scheduled.

Mr. Ritter, who is from New York City, would visit his grandmother in Allendale, S.C. During this time he became close with Ms. Dime, according to court documents.

Ms. Dime grew up in Allendale, where she worked as a hair dresser, and transitioned in her early 20s, Mr. Andrews said. She was 24 at the time of her death.

Witnesses told law enforcement officials that Ms. Doe and Mr. Ritter were in a sexual relationship during the time leading up to her death. Mr. Ritter tried to keep the relationship a secret because he did not want his girlfriend or the community to know about it, according to court documents.

Prosecutors said that Mr. Ritter was upset that word about his sexual relationship with Ms. Doe was circulating in Allendale. Mr. Ritter became “irate” after Ms. Doe publicized their relationship, and many of his friends mocked him for it, according to court documents.

Witnesses said he threatened to harm Ms. Doe as a result, according to court documents.

Mr. Ritter had picked up Ms. Doe and was pulled over by an Allendale County sheriff’s deputy for speeding. The deputy’s body camera video showed Mr. Ritter’s “distinctive” jeans as well as a tattoo and a scar on his arm, according to court documents, which did not offer more details.

Prosecutors said that Mr. Ritter then lured Ms. Doe to a remote area in Allendale and shot her three times in the head. Afterward, he burned the clothes he wore during the crime, disposed of the murder weapon and repeatedly lied to investigators, according to federal prosecutors.

Transgender people are four times as likely as cisgender people to experience violent victimization, including rape, sexual assault and aggravated or simple assault, according to a 2021 study by the Williams Institute at the U.C.L.A. School of Law.

One of Mr. Ritter’s defense lawyers, Joshua Kendrick, argued that there were inconsistencies in the government’s case.

He pointed to text messages that showed “a lot of respect and a calm nature” that didn’t match up with the government’s witnesses who told investigators that they knew of Mr. Ritter’s threats of violence.

“I felt we pointed out a lot of inconsistencies, the jury didn’t agree,” Mr. Kendrick said on Saturday. “They reached a verdict that we respect, even though we’re disappointed about it.”

Source link