Home » Deleted texts helped convince jurors man killed trans woman because of gender ID, foreperson says

Deleted texts helped convince jurors man killed trans woman because of gender ID, foreperson says

by NBC News

COLUMBIA, S.C. — When jurors first began weighing the fate of a man charged with murdering the transgender woman he’d been seeing secretly, they had little problem concluding that he fired the gun, the jury foreperson said.

The most difficult task was determining that he was driven by hate, as the Department of Justice alleged, Dee Elder, a transgender woman from Aiken, South Carolina, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

“Motive is just a harder thing to prove,” Elder said. “How do you look between someone’s ears?”

Elder reached out to the AP after she and 11 other jurors found Daqua Ritter guilty of shooting Dime Doe three times on Aug. 4, 2019, because of her gender identity, bringing to an end the first federal trial over a bias-motivated crime of that sort.

Dime Doe, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in August 2019. Courtesy Dime Doe Family via AP

Familiar with the difficulties presented by society for transgender people, Elder, 41, said she was compelled to discuss the case given its historic nature.

“We are everywhere. If one of us goes down, there’ll be another one of us on the jury,” she said. “And we’ve always been here. We’re just now letting ourselves be known.”

To prove the hate crime element during the trial, the Department of Justice relied heavily on arguments that Ritter feared he’d be ridiculed if the relationship became public knowledge in the rural South Carolina community of Allendale.

Jurors quickly reached a consensus on the charge that Ritter obstructed justice by lying to investigators, Elder said, and they also felt comfortable concluding that Ritter was the one who killed Doe.

But Elder said that determining the reason for committing the crime is “what took four hours.”

Hundreds of text messages between the pair, later obtained by the FBI, proved key to the conviction, she said. In many of them, Ritter repeatedly reminded Doe to delete their communications from her phone. The majority…

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