Hate-crime charge filed in Allendale transgender killing

Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 6:04 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 31, 2023 at 6:41 PM EST
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WASHINGTON (WRDW/WAGT) - A five-count federal indictment was unsealed charging two South Carolina men in the 2019 killing of a transgender woman in Allendale County.

The indictment charges Daqua Ritter, 26, with a hate crime in the murder of a transgender woman because of her gender identity; using a firearm in connection with the hate crime; and obstruction of justice.

The indictment also charges Xavier Pinckney, 24, with two obstruction offenses for providing false and misleading statements to authorities investigating the murder of the victim, LaDime Doe.

South Carolina is one of only two states without a hate crimes law in place.

The bill was sitting in the Senate in 2022, but lawmakers did not approve the proposal by the end of their session in May. That forced hate-crime charges to come from the federal level after Doe was murdered.

The indictment alleges that on Aug. 4, 2019, Ritter shot LaDime Doe, a transgender woman, because of Dime Doe’s actual and perceived gender identity.

The indictment further charges Ritter with misleading state investigators about his whereabouts on the day of the murder. The indictment also alleges Pinckney concealed from state investigators the use of his phone to call and text Dime Doe the day of the murder and lied to state and federal investigators about seeing Ritter after the morning of the murder.

The hate crime count against Ritter carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. The counts charging Ritter and Pinckney with obstruction of justice carry a maximum penalty of 20 years of imprisonment. The count charging Pinckney with lying to federal investigators carries a maximum penalty of five years of imprisonment.

The FBI’s Columbia Field Office investigated the case, with the assistance of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brook Andrews, Ben Garner, and Elle Klein for the District of South Carolina and Trial Attorney Andrew Manns of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section are prosecuting the case.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, 2021 was marked as the deadliest year for gender-diverse people with 2022 still being above normal.

They report fatal violence affects transgender women of color, primarily Black transgender women. We talked to a local spokesperson for the mother of Felycya Harris, a transgender woman who was murdered in Augusta in 2020, and the mother of Keisha Chanel Geter who was shot and killed at the Knights Inn hotel. They’re working to start an organization called “A Mother’s Fight” to stop violence in the LGBTQ+ community.

Walter Santiago is a local advocate. He said, “It’s not going to happen overnight that laws are going to be written to protect against hate crimes in South Carolina, let alone the lives of the transgender population in South Carolina. It goes all the way up to the Governor, Henry McMaster. What are you doing? What are you doing to protect these other individuals that reside in your state?”

We talked with an organization called South Carolina Equality and PFLAG. They say there’s a need for a hate crimes bill because if the federal government doesn’t want to charge a person for a hate crime, the state has no option to do it on its own.