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The Washington Post reports that, “Three men face hate crime charges in connection with the deadly shooting last summer of a 22-year-old Black transgender woman and for targeting two other transgender women, according to court papers filed this week.”
A grand jury in Washington, D.C. voted to indict the men on Wednesday for the July 4 shooting of Deeniquia Dodds, in what the accused say was a robbery attempt. Dodds was discovered unresponsive and bleeding, and tragically, she passed away in the hospital a little over a week later.
Jalonte Little, Monte T. Johnson and Cyheme Hall — the three defendants — have been charged with a robbery conspiracy and first-degree felony murder. In the indictment, prosecutors stressed that they believe the motive for the heinous crimes was anti-LGBTQ bias based on the victims’ transgender identities.
The Post continued: “The men are accused of committing four other robberies or attempted robberies on the same day, including the robbery of another transgender woman. According to the indictment, the men are also charged with assaulting a third transgender woman…”
“The addition of the hate crimes charges means that if the men are convicted, a judge could increase their penalties at sentencing. On the charge of first-degree murder while armed, for example, the hate crimes enhancement increases the maximum sentence from 60 years to 90 years in prison.”
Earline Budd, a local transgender advocate, hailed the U.S. attorney’s office’s decision to characterize the fatal shooting as a hate crime.
“It sends a message that it’s not okay to go around and shoot, harm and kill transgender people,” said Budd, who helped organize a vigil in Dodds’s honor. “It sends a message that we are human like anyone else.”
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) reports that more transgender people were killed in 2015 than in any other year on record. In the D.C., six have been killed since 2002.
Dodds, whom friends called Dee Dee, was a sex worker, relatives have said. Statistics show that transgender sex workers, in particularly, face unparalleled dangers of violence directly linked to their gender identities.
We mourn the tragic loss of Dee Dee Dodds and the harm inflicted on the other victims in the case, and hope the D.C. courts bring those who perpetrated these terrible crimes to swift justice.