South Carolina Man Convicted Of Killing A Black Transgender Woman, Making It The First Federal Hate Crime Trial Over Gender Identity

MANHATTAN, NY – July 26: A protester holds a sign that say, “Black Trans Lives Matter” with the names of women that have died at the hands of police as they march in Times Square New York in support of Black Women. On July 28, 2020 Nikki Stone a homeless transgender woman was abducted off the streets and taken onto an unmarked van and arrested. This non-violent protest was a March for Black Womxn which started at Times Square and walked through Manhattan. This is days after Portland and other cities have seen federal agents have taken protesters and put into unmarked vehicles while others have been beaten and pepper sprayed. Protesters continue taking to the streets across America and around the world after the killing of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer Derek Chauvin that was kneeling on his neck during for eight minutes, was caught on video and went viral. During his arrest as Floyd pleaded, “I Can’t Breathe”. The protest are attempting to give a voice to the need for human rights for African American’s and to stop police brutality against people of color. They are also protesting deep-seated racism in America. Many people were wearing masks and observing social distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic. Photographed in the Manhattan Borough of New York on July 26, 2020, USA. (Photo by Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images)

Last Friday, Daqua Lameek Ritter of South Carolina was convicted of the 2019 killing Dime Doe, a Black transgender woman. Jurors found Daqua Lameek Ritter guilty of a hate crime, in the “first federal hate crime trial over gender identity.”

While this isn’t the first time federal officials have prosecuted anyone for hate crime based off of gender identity, it is the first time a case has actually gone to trial. “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,” NBC News reports.

“Prior to the passage of the 2009 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, federal hate crime laws did not account for crimes committed based on the victim’s gender identity or sexual orientation.” And South Carolina is one of the last two states in the country without an existing hate crimes law on the books.

During the trial, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) alleged that “Ritter shot and killed Doe three times in the head on a rainy August 2019 day along a rural county road in a secluded part of Allendale County.” Prosecutors say the reason Ritter killed Doe was because he was scared that someone would discover “he was in a sexual relationship with her.”  

Furthermore, Ritter was also “accused of lying to state investigators about his whereabouts on August 4, 2019, the day of the murder, and fabricating alibis,” WIS10 wrote.

It only took the jury around four hours to convict. In addition, the jury also found Ritter “guilty of using a firearm in connection with the fatal shooting and obstructing justice.”   

The date for Ritter’s sentencing has not been scheduled yet, but Ritter does face “a maximum of life imprisonment without parole.”

Per a press release from the DOJ, Acting Associate Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer said “Acts of violence against LGBTQI+ people, including transgender women of color like Dime Doe, are on the rise and have no place in our society.”

“The Justice Department takes seriously all bias-motivated acts of violence and will not hesitate to hold accountable those who commit them,” continued Mizer. “No one should have to live in fear of deadly violence because of who they are.”

“Justice has prevailed in this case…This guilty verdict underscores the importance of upholding the rights and dignity of all individuals,” stated Special Agent in Charge Steve Jensen of the FBI Columbia Field Office. “This outcome will never completely erase the pain Doe’s family faces, but it is our hope that it brings a measure of closure to this tragic and heinous crime.”

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