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Man convicted in first federal hate crime trial based on gender identity for murder of Black trans woman

Pebbles LaDime Doe murdered transgender woman hate crime Daqua Ritter mugshot federal trial
via NBC News; Federal Department of Justice

Black trans woman Pebbles LaDime “Dime” Doe was found shot dead in her car in South Carolina. Now, her killer has been found guilty.

It took a jury only four hours to convict a South Carolina man of murdering a Black transgender woman in the first federal trial for a hate crime based on the victim’s perceived gender identity.

Pebbles LaDime “Dime” Doe, a 24-year-old Black transgender woman, was found shot to death in her car in Allendale, South Carolina, on August 4, 2019. On Friday, Daqua Lameek Ritter 26, was found guilty of all charges including one hate crime count, one federal firearm count, and one obstruction count in Doe’s murder. Prosecutors alleged Ritter killed Doe to hide their sexual relationship and his own sexual identity.

A second man, Xavier Pinckney, 24, was charged with two obstruction offenses for providing false and misleading statements to authorities investigating the murder. Pinckney pleaded guilty to a single count of obstruction in October.

“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,” Acting Associate Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer said in a statement issued on Saturday.

“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,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a statement.

Prosecutors presented witnesses in court last week who testified that Ritter grew angry and defensive when questioned by friends about his relationship with Doe. The small-knit community of roughly 8,000 residents knew that Doe started her transition shortly after high school, and Doe had reportedly told others of her sexual relationship with Ritter.

Gender identity became a basis for Federal hate crime prosecution in 2019. While this is the first trial using gender identity as a basis for a Federal hate crime, it is not the first time a person has been prosecuted.

Joshua Vallum pleaded guilty to the murder of a teenage transgender woman, Mercedes Williamson, in 2015. Vallum used a stun gun to incapacitate the 17-year-old before stabbing and beating her to death.

Much like the case of Ritter and Doe, prosecutors said Vallum killed Williamson to hide their sexual relationship and his sexual identity from fellow gang members.

Last week in a South Carolina courtroom, a former girlfriend, Yanna Albany, testified Ritter became angry and used a homophobic slur when she broke up with him because of his relationship with Doe. Albany, Doe’s cousin, said Ritter grew enraged, accused Doe of lying, and threatened to beat Doe when Albany revealed she had learned of the relationship from Doe.

Prosecutors alleged at trial that Ritter used Pinckney’s phone to arrange a meeting with Doe on the day of the murder and was later reportedly seen with Doe in a car as she was ticketed for a traffic violation.

Ritter now faces a maximum of life in prison without the possibility of parole. He will be sentenced at a later still undetermined date.

U.S. Attorney Adair F. Boroughs for the District of South Carolina said he hopes the conviction will help Doe’s surviving family and friends deal with her loss.

“As Dime Doe’s loved ones remember her, we hope this verdict provides them some comfort,” said Boroughs in a statement.

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