The accused killer of a transgender man in Washington, D.C., has been freed until his trial begins in July 2021, a development that has outraged the victim’s family.
Akihs Gaius Green, 42, received a gunshot wound to the head March 1, 2017, the Washington Blade reports. He died of the wound July 21 of that year. D.C police arrested Jordan Smith in October 2017 on a charge of second-degree murder while armed. In 2018, at the behest of the U.S. Attorney’s office, a D.C. grand jury upgraded the charge to first-degree murder while armed and added two more charges, possession of a firearm during a crime of violence and unlawful possession of a firearm. Green had been living with Smith and the suspect’s girlfriend; Smith is accused of shooting Green during an argument.
Smith had been jailed since his arrest, as a judge assigned to the case said he posed a danger to the community and to a primary witness. But this year another judge, Craig Iscoe, ruled that under D.C. law, the suspect had to be released to a halfway house and then to the supervision of his mother if prosecutors did not show there was a “substantial probability” that he committed the crime. He found that they had not, and that Smith’s attorneys had provided evidence of conflicting statements by an important witness. Smith, whose trial was initially set for November, was instead freed that month and is in his mother’s custody under what the judge called a “high intensity” supervision program, the Blade reports. The trial has been postponed until July 2021.
Vickie McNeal, Green’s mother, told the Blade she believed prosecutors could have put up stronger opposition to Smith’s release and that she would like for them to declare her son’s death an antigay and anti-transgender hate crime. Smith “is homophobic and transgender phobic,” she said.
Charging documents, however, do not address this issue, instead implying that jealousy may have been the motive for Green’s murder. Smith had told police that his girlfriend and Green had been in a sexual relationship at one point, although they were platonic friends at the time of Green’s death. McNeal called the report of a sexual relationship a “complete lie” and said her son had no romantic interest in the woman.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office declined comment to the Blade, and the paper could not reach the defense attorneys for comment. Smith’s attorneys are with the D.C. Public Defender Service, and lawyers with that group usually don’t talk to the press about pending cases, the Blade notes.
Throughout the proceedings, D.C. police and court records have identified Green as a female and used his birth name. Lt. Brett Parson, who heads the D.C. Police LGBT Liaison Unit, told the Blade that department policy is “to avoid disclosing information that might reveal the sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression of anyone involved in a case we may be investigating, unless we believe that information is necessary to increase public safety.”
Constant reports of violence against our community are difficult to read, especially as we continue to face historic rates. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach out to the Anti-Violence Project’s free bilingual (English/Spanish) national hotline at (212) 714-1141 or report online for support.