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WATCH: Suspect Arrested in Los Angeles Trans Woman's December Death

WATCH: Suspect Arrested in Los Angeles Trans Woman's December Death


A man has been arrested in connection with Deshawnda Sanchez's murder, which occurred during a suspected robbery in December.

Police arrested a man Wednesday in connection with the fatal December 3 shooting of 21-year-old trans woman Deshawnda Sanchez in Los Angeles, reports the city's KNBC TV station.

Robert James Spells, 30, is suspected of killing Sanchez while she was pounding on a stranger's front door for help. Spells has also been identified as the suspect in a February case of human trafficking of an 11-year-old girl, according to KNBC.

On the night of her death, Sanchez called police around 4 a.m. to report that she had been attacked and robbed, and that her assailant had returned. Officials heard shots fired on the other end of the phone line, and when they reached Sanchez she was dead due to multiple gunshots.

Several neighbors also reported hearing shots fired, and one neighbor's surveillance camera recorded a figure pulling up to the house in a light-colored compact car, getting out, running up to the porch, then returning to the vehicle and driving away, notes local TV station KTLA.

Police have ruled that Sanchez's death was not a hate crime. Her death, however, is part of a worldwide trend of fatal violence against trans women, and especially trans women of color. Last year saw 12 reported deaths of transgender women in the U.S., while 2015 has had a particularly deadly start with seven trans women reported killed in the first two months of the year. Media reported on nearly 200 trans women of color killed worldwide last year, with potentially many others not discussed or misgendered in death.

Sanchez, who was an aspiring college student known better to loved ones as "Tata" has been mourned by her family -- including her twin sister and 10 other siblings -- as well as by her local trans community members, who held a vigil in her honor. Watch the KNBC video below for more on the community response.

Anyone with information reguarding either Sanchez's murder or the human trafficking case is asked to contact the 77th Division Criminal Gang/Homicide Detectives at (213) 485-1383.

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