Man found guilty of killing trans woman in landmark federal hate crime trial

A man named Daqua Ritter has been found guilty of killing a Black transgender woman, in the first-ever federal hate crime trial over a gender-identity-based killing in the US.

A jury in South Carolina unanimously found Daqua Ritter guilty of killing 24-year-old Pebbles LaDime “Dime” Doe on Friday (23 February). He was accused of shooting Doe in August 2019, in what prosecutors described as a fit of rage, fuelled by news of their relationship spreading.

During the four-day trial, the jury saw close to 100 pieces of evidence, and a friend of Ritter said the defendant would attack Doe for talking about their relationship.

In closing arguments, prosecutors said the case was “simple”, given that Ritter was the only person with the motive and the opportunity to have committed the crime.

“The jury also heard testimony that her killer, Daqua Ritter, believed this was going to be a cold case. It is not a cold case any more,” said Brook Andrews, an assistant US attorney for the District of South Carolina.

After less than four hours of deliberation, the jury found Ritter guilty on three counts, including the use of a firearm in connection with the shooting and obstructing justice. He faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.

A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.

Referring to Sherlock Holmes, defence attorney Joshua Kendrick argued that a guilty verdict would be a stretch, saying that the fictional detective believed circumstantial evidence was not enough to convict a person.

In response, US attorney Ben Garner said: “You don’t need Sherlock Holmes [to solve this case].”

Dime Doe described as the ‘life of the party’

One of Ritter’s friends, Xavier Pinckey, pleaded guilty to obstructing the investigation in October 2023 after he was accused of lying to police officers about the case.

During the window of time in which Doe is believed to have been killed, Pinckey made a call to a number later identified as Doe’s phone, which was answered by Ritter.

After asking where the rest of his friends were located, several witnesses described a collective “burn barrel” later that evening in which they set fire to evidence. The trial was told that one witness heard Ritter say: “Nobody’s gonna have to worry about [Doe] any more.”

Following news of her death, friends and family described Dime Doe as the “life of the party” and having a “bright personality.”

Another friend wrote: “If I knew Friday was my last time seeing you, I would have hugged you even tighter.”

According to CNN, assistant attorney general Kristen Clarke, with the US Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said on Saturday: “This case is historic. This defendant is the first to be found guilty by trial verdict for a hate crime motivated by gender identity under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

“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.”

The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was passed in 2009, after Shepard, a gay student in Wyoming, and Byrd, a Black father of three in Texas, were murdered in 1998. The act expanded the federal definition of hate crimes to include gender, disability, gender identity and sexual orientation.

The post Man found guilty of killing trans woman in landmark federal hate crime trial appeared first on PinkNews | Latest lesbian, gay, bi and trans news | LGBTQ+ news.