Wednesday, April 17, 2024
World / North AmericaWorld News

US man guilty of murdering transgender woman in first hate crime trial of its kind

Witnesses told law enforcement officials that Doe and Ritter were in a sexual relationship during the time leading up to her death. Ritter tried to keep the relationship a secret because he did not want his girlfriend or the community to know about it, according to court documents.


Prosecutors argued Ritter was upset that word about his relationship with Doe was circulating in Allendale. Ritter became “irate” after Doe publicised their relationship, and many of his friends mocked him for it, the documents say.

Witnesses said he threatened to harm Doe as a result.

Ritter had picked up Doe and was pulled over by an Allendale County sheriff’s deputy for speeding. The deputy’s body camera video showed Ritter’s “distinctive” jeans as well as a tattoo and a scar on his arm, according to the court documents.

Prosecutors said Ritter then lured Doe to a remote area in Allendale and shot her three times in the head. Afterwards, he burned the clothes he wore, disposed of the murder weapon and repeatedly lied to investigators, according to federal prosecutors.

Transgender people are four times as likely as cisgender people to experience violent victimisation, including rape, sexual assault and aggravated or simple assault, according to a 2021 study by the Williams Institute at the University of California Los Angeles School of Law.

One of Ritter’s defence lawyers, Joshua Kendrick, argued there were inconsistencies in the government’s case.

He pointed to text messages that showed “a lot of respect and a calm nature” that didn’t match up with prosecution witnesses who told investigators that they knew of Ritter’s threats of violence.

“I felt we pointed out a lot of inconsistencies, the jury didn’t agree,” Kendrick said on Saturday. “They reached a verdict that we respect, even though we’re disappointed about it.”

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