Gender-Based Hate Crime Case Goes To Trial

An individual is about to go on trial in South Carolina for the first federal hate crime trial involving gender identity. 

The man, Daqua Lameek Ritter, is accused of killing a Black transgender lady, known by the pseudonym “Dime Doe,” and then fleeing to New York. 

The transgender woman was lured in August 2019 to a rural region in South Carolina that was relatively unpopulated. They stopped in a remote place close to a relative’s house, and Ritter shot her three times in the head.

According to the prosecution, Ritter’s girlfriend and friends found out about his affair with the woman a month before the murder. The defense claims that the two were close friends since they were related through Ritter’s aunt and the woman’s uncle.

The LGBTQ+ community has been the target of an upsurge in assaults in recent years, with transgender women of color seeing an alarmingly high number of assaults and hate crimes. The FBI recorded a 37% increase in hate crimes based on gender identification in 2022 compared to the previous year. 

Ritter faces the possibility of a maximum life sentence if found guilty of the hate crime. In August, prosecutors reportedly decided not to ask for the death penalty.

The federal government failed to pass legislation protecting victims from crimes motivated by their gender identity or orientation until 2009. 

The first person whose gender identity was the basis for their murderer’s prosecution occurred in 2017. A man in Mississippi murdered a 17-year-old and received a 49-year sentence. The case did not go to trial.

Assistant United States Attorney Brook Andrews stated that this South Carolina case is unique in that it will be tried in court for the first time on Tuesday. 

A federal jury has never before considered the victim’s gender identity while deciding whether or not to impose a punishment.