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A Maryland man was arrested last week on suspicion of killing 20-year-old transgender woman Taya Ashton, who was shot to death in her Suitland apartment on July 18.
Prince George’s County Police arrested DeAllen Price, 27, of District Heights, Maryland, charging him with first- and second-degree murder charges, as well as assault and gun charges. Police say Price and Ashton had been involved in a relationship.
Police were called to the 2300 block of Brooks Drive in Suitland, where officers found Ashton suffering from a gunshot wound. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Medical examiners later recovered a .40-caliber bullet from Ashton’s body during the autopsy.
According to charging documents, detectives linked phone conversations between Ashton and Price on the night Ashton was murdered. Several items were also missing from her apartment, reports The Washington Post.
The Sunday after the murder, Arlington police pursued Price into a tunnel near the Pentagon Metro station and later arrested him on an unrelated theft charge. At the time of his arrest, Price wore a Gucci bag, which Price George’s County investigators said matches the description of a bag missing from Ashton’s home.
Metro Transit police and Prince George’s K-9 officers swept the Metro tunnel and recovered a .40-caliber Smith and Wesson that investigators said matched the .40-caliber slug recovered from Ashton’s body.
According to charging documents, Price admitted to being sexually intimate with Ashton and having been in her apartment on the night of her death, reports The Advocate.
Ashton is the 31st known transgender or gender-nonconforming person to be fatally shot or killed in the United States this year, although there may be more trans victims who have been deadnamed or misgendered in news or police reports. However, Prince George’s County Police have said that they did not find evidence suggesting that Ashton’s gender identity contributed to her death.
About 100 people, including Ashton’s family, friends, neighbors, and members of the D.C.-area LGBTQ community gathered at River Terrace Park last Wednesday to hold a candlelight vigil in her memory, followed by an event at Ashton’s apartment complex where mourners released purple and white balloons into the sky.
Ashton’s grandfather, Stuart Anderson, indicated during the vigil that he believed Ashton’s gender identity may have played a role in her death, according to the Post.
“If there is evidence to indicate that wasn’t the case … show us what made you think that way,” he said. “What made you think that Taya’s gender identity had nothing to do with her demise?”
Some advocates have expressed frustration at the death of yet another trans woman of color, with local activist Earline Budd recalling two other transgender women, Ashanti Carmon and Zoe Spears, who were killed in Prince George’s County in 2019.
“There should be no rest in the LGBTQ community when something as tragic as this happens,” Budd said in a statement released shortly after news of Ashton’s death broke.
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