Trial over Black transgender woman’s death in rural South Carolina focuses on secret relationship

Feb24,2024



Colombia: A black transgender woman And the guy she was secretly dating was recently pulled over in the countryside South Carolina, Dime Doe, the driver, was worried. She already had points against her license and didn't want another ticket to keep her from driving. Daqua Lamique Ritter, whom she affectionately called “my man”, often depended on her for rides.
Everything seemed fine: Doe sent a text message to her mother that afternoon saying she got a $72 ticket but that she was “fine.”
A few hours later, police found him slumped over the driver's seat of his car parked on the side of a deserted road. His death on August 4, 2019, is now the subject of the country's first federal tests on an alleged hate crime based on gender identity, which began on Tuesday.
It is unclear what happened in the approximately two and a half hours between the time the doe was last seen and the discovery of her body. But as prosecutors wrap up their case this week, the secret between the 24-year-old Doe — whom friends remember as an outspoken partygoer — and Ritter, a man with distinctive tattoos on his left wrist More details about the relationship are emerging. Camera footage from a traffic stop.
Ritter has been charged with “a hate crime for the murder of a transgender woman because of her gender identity,” using a firearm in connection with a hate crime, and obstruction of justice.
The US Justice Department alleges that he murdered Doe to prevent further exposure of his relationship in a small country town where rumors were already spreading. Text exchanges between the pair show that Ritter tried to fend off relationship gossip in the weeks before Doe's death. According to trial testimony, he also overshadowed the murder investigation by shyly answering questions from his main girlfriend in the days that followed.
In Allendale, South Carolina – population 8,000 – it was no secret that Doe began her social transition into a woman soon after graduating high school, her close friends testified. Doe started wearing skirts, getting her nails done, and wearing extensions. She and her friends had gone out to drink. They discussed the boys they were seeing.
One of those boys was Ritter, who came from New York to visit family during the summer. Doe and Ritter became close during those stays, leading in the summer of 2019 to leave DeLasia Green – Ritter's primary girlfriend – with a “gut feeling” that something was wrong.
Ritter initially told Green that she and Doe were cousins, the girlfriend testified this week. But then she found messages on her phone from an unsaved number asking to “get a room.” He assumed they were from Doe.
When Green confronted Ritter, he became upset and told her she shouldn't question his sexuality, she said.
Doe's cousin, Yana Albany, testified that she also had a relationship with Ritter that summer, but ended it after about three weeks when Doe told her she was also seeing him. Albany said that when she broke up with Ritter, he became angry, threatened to beat Doe for “lying on him” and used a homophobic slur.
However, Doe's relationship with Ritter appears to have grown stronger after the entanglement, Albany said. Other friends said Doe never mentioned any drama between the two.
Nevertheless, texts obtained by the FBI show that Ritter tried to keep their affair as secret as possible. He would remind Doe to delete their communications from her phone, and most of the hundreds of messages sent in the month before her death were deleted.
Shortly before Doe's death, the text messages began to become tense. In a message dated July 29, 2019, she complained that Ritter did not reciprocate her generosity. He replied that he thought he had an understanding that he did not need “extra stuff”. She also told him that Green had recently insulted her with a homophobic slur. In a July 31 text, Doe said she felt she was being used and that Ritter should never have let his girlfriend know about them.
Ritter's defense attorneys said the sample of messages presented by prosecutors represented only a “snapshot” of their exchanges. He pointed to a July 18 text in which Doe encouraged Ritter, and another exchange where Ritter thanked Doe for one of her many kindnesses.
But witnesses gave other potentially damaging testimony against Ritter.
On the day Doe died, a group of friends saw the defendant leave in a silver car with blacked-out windows – a vehicle that Ritter's acquaintance Cordell Jenkins testified he had previously seen Doe drive. When Ritter returned to play cards several hours later, Jenkins said he was wearing a new outfit and appeared “on edge.” It was a summer day, and a group of four people started lighting a barrel on fire to drive away mosquitoes.
Ritter emptied his book bag into the barrel, Jenkins testified. He said he could not see the contents, but he assumed these were items Ritter no longer wanted, possibly clothes he had worn earlier that day.
Jenkins said that when the two ran into each other the next day, he noticed the silver handle of a small firearm sticking out of the waistband of Ritter's pants. He said Ritter told him to “get over it.”
Defense attorneys argued that it was absurd to think that Ritter would ask someone he barely knew to dispose of an alleged murder weapon.
But soon after Doe's death, Allendale was filled with rumors that Ritter had killed her.
Green testified that when he arrived at his cousin's house in Columbia that weekend, he was dirty, smelly and could not control his movements. Her cousin's boyfriend gave Ritter a ride to the bus stop, presumably so he could return to New York. Before leaving, Green asked him if he had killed the doe.
“He tilted his head and gave me a little smile,” Green said.
According to FBI Special Agent Clay Trippi, Ritter monitored the consequences of Doe's death from New York, citing Facebook messages between Ritter and Xavier Pinkney, a friend of Allendale. On August 11, Pinkney told Ritter that no one was “really talking”, which Trippi took as a reference to less cooperation with the police.
But by August 14, Pinckney was warning Ritter to stay away from Ellendale as state police came to visit him. He later said that someone was “sniping”.
Trippi testified that his sources never saw Ritter again in Allendale the summer after Doe's death.
Federal officials charged Pinckney with obstruction of justice, saying he made false and misleading statements.



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