By Trudy Ring
Originally published on Advocate.com May 26 2012 11:38 AM ET
A New Jersey man was acquitted Friday of the 2010 murder of transgender lingerie model Victoria Carmen White.
A jury in Essex County, N.J., found Alrashim Chambers, 25, of Newark, not guilty of murder, bias intimidation, and two weapons charges, New Jersey’s Star-Ledger newspaper reports. Chambers, who took the stand in his own defense, denied having anything to do with the killing and painted another man, Marquise Foster, who took a plea deal in exchange for testimony against Chambers, as the perpetrator.
White, 28, was shot to death September 12, 2010, in her cousin’s apartment in Maplewood, N.J. She had met Chambers at a bar earlier that evening, and he had gone to the apartment with her. Also present were Foster and two women, including the cousin. But the women were in another room at the time of the shooting and did not directly witness it. The women said they heard someone yell “You a dude?” and heard gunshots, but they could not identify the speaker or the shooter.
Foster had testified that Chambers had been hugging and kissing White and became enraged when he suspected she was transgender, then shot her. But Chambers said he was not in the apartment when White was shot, having stepped out and been unable to return because a door in the vestibule was locked. He said he saw Foster come running out, but Foster didn’t tell him what had happened. Chambers also said he didn’t know White had been killed until he saw news reports two months later that described him and Foster as suspects. Both men turned themselves in to authorities shortly thereafter. The gun used in the killing was never found.
Prosecutor Eileen O’Connor said White’s gender identity provided the only motive for her killing, yet the bias intimidation charge did not figure significantly in the trial, the Star-Ledger reports. White had undergone gender-reassignment surgery 10 years earlier.
O’Connor told the paper that she and White’s family were disappointed in the verdict, “but we put forth all the evidence in the case and did the best we could under the circumstances.”