top of page

Welcome to Crime and Justice News

First Gender-Based Hate Crime Trial Begins in South Carolina

The first federal trial involving a gender-based hate crime, where a man stands accused of murdering a transgender woman in a small town in South Carolina’s Lowcountry, began Tuesday in Columbia, News From The States reports. On Aug. 4, 2019, a landowner called police after finding a transgender woman, referred to as “Dime Doe,” slumped over the steering wheel of her car on a rural road in Allendale, 80 miles south of Columbia, with three gunshot wounds to the head. No witnesses or cameras saw what happened. A jury will decide whether a man, rumored to have had a sexual relationship with her, was the person who killed her. The court proceedings Tuesday marked the first time a person has gone to trial on charges of murdering someone for their gender identity since a 2009 law made attacking someone over their gender identity a hate crime, says the U.S. Attorney General’s office. In 2017, a Mississippi man pleaded guilty before going to trial in the killing of a transgender 17-year-old due to her gender. He was sentenced to 49 years in prison.

South Carolina is one of two states without a law specific to hate crimes, but because the accused murderer, Daqua Ritter, fled the state with the gun, the case fell under federal jurisdiction. Federal prosecutor Benjamin Garner argued to a 14-person jury Tuesday that Ritter was the one who shot Doe, motivated by his “deep-seated fear of judgment and ridicule” over rumors that the two were having sex and gossip about his sexuality. Ritter’s former girlfriend, who is slated to testify, accused him of having an affair after she found text messages between Ritter and Doe discussing oral sex and where to park Doe’s car while they spent time together. When a friend of Doe mentioned the relationship, Ritter got angry and threatened to beat up Doe for telling people, Garner said. “He killed (Doe) to silence her so she wouldn’t tell others in the community and to show others that they were not in a relationship,” Garner told the jury. Nothing conclusively links Ritter to the scene of the crime, defense attorney Lindsey Vann said. In the small town of 2,500 residents, Vann said Ritter was an outsider. He grew up in New York but often visited South Carolina, where his grandmother still had a home and members of his family still lived. Gossip was part of life in the small town. When Doe was killed, “immediately the rumor mill started running,” she said.


Recent Posts

See All


A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

bottom of page