Man shot trans lover after his girlfriend found out, US court hears

Dime Doe, a Black transgender woman, died in August 2019
Dime Doe, a transgender woman, was shot dead in August 2019 - DIME DOE/AP

A man shot his transgender lover after his girlfriend found out about the affair, a US court has heard in the first federal trial for a gender-based hate crime.

The secret relationship took place between Daqua Lameek Ritter, 26, and a black transgender woman referred to in court documents as Dime Doe.

The prosecution alleges that Mr Ritter, who frequently relied on Doe, 24, for rides, lured her into driving around a quiet part of Allendale, South Carolina, before shooting her three times to prevent further exposure of their affair.

According to court proceedings, which started on Tuesday, Delasia Green, Mr Ritter’s girlfriend, learnt about the affair between him and Doe in the month before the killing.

The revelation prompted Ms Green to hurl a homophobic slur at the defendant, making him “extremely upset”, according to prosecutors.

Daqua Lameek Ritter, 26, was allegedly in a secret relationship with Doe
Daqua Lameek Ritter, 26, was allegedly in a secret relationship with Doe - AP

Mr Ritter, who is charged with murder as a hate crime and using a firearm in the commission of a hate crime, was said to have been splitting his time between South Carolina, where he worked, and New York, where he lived with his family and girlfriend.

Mr Ritter initially told Ms Green that he and Doe were cousins but after they grew closer on a series of his visits to South Carolina, Ms Green began to have a “gut feeling” something was wrong.

After Ms Green found text messages on his phone from an unsaved number that discussed “getting a room” she assumed they were from Ms Doe and confronted Mr Ritter, who told her that she should not question his sexuality.

Mr Ritter’s lawyers have maintained that the trial is not about their client’s sexual relationship with Doe, but whether or not he killed her.

However, Ben Garner, an assistant US attorney for the district of South Carolina, told a federal jury that Mr Ritter “killed her to silence her”, after he reportedly became “enraged” after finding out Doe had told one of her friends about the relationship.

Text messages obtained by the FBI suggest that Mr Ritter sought to keep their relationship under wraps as much as possible. He would tell Doe to delete any communications between them, which meant that the majority of messages exchanged by the pair in the months before her death were deleted.

On the day of Doe’s death in August 2019, the pair were pulled over by police. While it’s unclear what they were pulled over for, Doe got a $72 ticket, according to a text message she sent to her mother.

Two and a half hours later, police found her slumped in the driver’s seat of her car, which was parked in a driveway off a secluded road.

During the trial, witnesses have said that they saw Mr Ritter on the day of the death seemingly “on edge” following the hours the murder is thought to have taken place.

Kordell Jenkins, an acquaintance of Mr Ritter, testified that he saw him empty his book bag into a fire on the same day and that he asked Mr Jenkins to dispose of a small firearm.

Defence attorneys have said that Mr Ritter would not ask someone he barely knew to dispose of an alleged murder weapon.

Prosecutors for the case have said they will not seek the death penalty for Mr Ritter.