Man convicted of killing Black trans woman Dime Doe in ‘historic’ case

A South Carolina man has been found guilty of the murder of a Black transgender woman, with authorities saying it was the first federal murder case of its kind involving someone charged with a hate crime based on gender identity.

Following a four day trial and less than an hour of deliberation, jurors found Daqua Lameek Ritter guilty of all charges in the 2019 murder of 24-year-old Pebbles LaDime “Dime” Doe, which included one hate crime count, a federal firearms count and an obstruction count. 

The case was the first under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act for violence against a trans person. The Shepard-Byrd Act, which was passed in 2009, allows federal criminal prosecution of hate crimes motivated by the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

Ritter faces life in prison for the crime, with a sentencing hearing set to be scheduled for a later date. 

In a statement released following the conviction, assistant attorney general Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said: “A unanimous jury has found the defendant guilty for the heinous and tragic murder of Dime Doe, a Black transgender woman. 

“The jury’s verdict sends a clear message: Black trans lives matter, bias-motivated violence will not be tolerated, and perpetrators of hate crimes will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. 

“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.” 

Clarke added: “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.”

Evidence presented at trial revealed Ritter and Doe were engaged in a sexual relationship – which he wanted to keep secret – and he was unhappy that rumours of a relationship between them were circulating in the community. 

On 4 August, 2019, he lured Doe to a remote road in Allendale in South Carolina and proceeded to shoot her in the head three times, killing her. Her body was discovered slumped over the steering wheel of her car. 

Following Doe’s murder, Ritter burned the clothes he had been wearing, disposed of the murder weapon and proceeded to lie to law enforcement about the incident. 

At trial, the government proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Ritter murdered Doe because of her gender identity as a trans woman. 

“Years of collaborative work were validated by a jury’s unanimous verdict: guilty. This sends a message of hope to our community that we will fight for the rights of those targeted for their gender identity or sexual orientation,” said US attorney Adair F. Boroughs for the District of South Carolina. 

“As Dime Doe’s loved ones remember her, we hope this verdict provides them some comfort.

“Our office will continue to work with the FBI to increase education on federal hate crime statues and how we can, and will, prosecute crimes motivated by bias in South Carolina.”

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