South Carolina Man Found Guilty of Hate Crime for Killing a Transgender Woman Because of Her Gender Identity

After a four-day trial in a federal hate crime case, a jury found a South Carolina man, Daqua Lameek Ritter, guilty of all charges in the indictment, which included one hate crime count, one federal firearms count, and one obstruction count, all arising out of the murder of Dime Doe, a transgender woman.

“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,” said Acting Associate Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer. “The Justice Department takes seriously all bias-motivated acts of violence and will not hesitate to hold accountable those who commit them. No one should have to live in fear of deadly violence because of who they are.”

“A unanimous jury has found the defendant guilty for the heinous and tragic murder of Dime Doe, a Black transgender woman,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “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. This case is historic; this defendant is the first to be found guilty by trial verdict for a hate crime motivated by gender identity under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. We want the Black trans community to know that you are seen and heard, that we stand with the LGBTQI+ community, and that we will use every tool available to seek justice for victims and their families.”

“Years of collaborative work were validated by a jury’s unanimous verdict: guilty. This sends a message of hope to our community that we will fight for the rights of those targeted for their gender identity or sexual orientation. As Dime Doe’s loved ones remember her, we hope this verdict provides them some comfort,” said U.S. Attorney Adair F. Boroughs for the District of South Carolina. “Our office will continue to work with the FBI to increase education on federal hate crime statues and how we can, and will, prosecute crimes motivated by bias in South Carolina.”

“Justice has prevailed in this case,” said Special Agent in Charge Steve Jensen of the FBI Columbia Field Office. “This guilty verdict underscores the importance of upholding the rights and dignity of all individuals. This outcome will never completely erase the pain Doe’s family faces, but it is our hope that it brings a measure of closure to this tragic and heinous crime.”

Evidence presented at trial showed that Ritter was upset that rumors about his sexual relationship with Dime Doe were out in the community. On Aug. 4, 2019, the defendant lured Doe to a remote area in Allendale, South Carolina, and shot her three times in the head. At trial, the government proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Ritter murdered Doe because of her gender identity. Ritter then burned the clothes he was wearing during the crime, disposed of the murder weapon, and repeatedly lied to law enforcement. 

Ritter* faces a maximum penalty of life in prison. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled at a later date. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The FBI Columbia Field Office investigated the case, with the assistance of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, Allendale County Sheriff’s Office, and Allendale Police Department.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brook Andrews, Ben Garner, and Elle Klein for the District of South Carolina and Trial Attorney Andrew Manns of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section are prosecuting the case.

This was the first trial under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act for violence against a transgender person. The Shepard-Byrd Act is a landmark federal statute passed in 2009 which allows federal criminal prosecution of hate crimes motivated by the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

Additional information about the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act is available here.  

* This has been corrected to reflect the correct name of the defendant. 

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