Historic Gender-Based Hate Crime Trial Set to Begin

(NationRise.com) – The trial for the murder of a transgender person is making history as the first case to be labeled a hate crime over gender identity to be tried in federal court.

The trial will be held in South Carolina, where 26-year-old Daqua Lameek Ritter allegedly convinced a transgendered friend — whom court documents reference as “Dime Doe” — who transitioned from man to woman to give him a ride. Ritter allegedly directed his victim to a remote area before opening fire.

South Carolina US District Attorney Ben Garner claimed that Ritter had a sexual relationship with his victim despite already being in a romantic relationship with a woman. The two were initially good friends and spent some of their teen years visiting a vacation home belonging to Ritter’s family. They were also cousins by marriage.

However, Ritter became angry after learning that some of his victim’s friends were aware of the relationship. He had insisted that the relationship remain a secret and threatened to harm Doe, according to Garner.

Prosecutors also said that Ritter’s girlfriend found out about the relationship a month before the shooting. She became angry and chastised Ritter for dating a transgender person. Investigators believe the ridicule Ritter faced from his girlfriend and others caused him to snap.

Garner believes the murder was an attempt to quell further revelations about the secret relationship. Doe had already spoken about it with friends, and Ritter likely wanted to stop the news from spreading. He quickly left South Carolina after the murder and attempted to cover his involvement by burning clothes and hiding the murder weapon.

The case drew parallels with a 2017 murder in which a 17-year-old transgendered person was killed in Mississippi. It was the first time that a suspect faced hate crime penalties after a 2009 law that included transgender people as a protected class. Joshua Vallum, the convicted killer, was sentenced to 39 years in prison.

However, Doe’s case was the first in which a suspect was charged under the law by a federal jury based on the victim’s chosen gender identity.

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