Metro Weekly

Maryland Judge Approves Release of Trans Woman’s Killer

Baltimore witnessed tragedy when a driver accused of shooting Meghan Riley Lewis was released from prison. It all began with misgendering.

Meghan Lewis – Photo: Facebook

Members of the Baltimore-area LGBTQ community are outraged after a Maryland judge ruled that a delivery driver accused of shooting and killing a transgender woman could be released from prison as he awaits trial.

The victim, Meghan Riley Lewis, of Bel Air, was killed on December 27 after getting into a confrontation with Brian Delen, who was delivering food to her apartment complex.

The 47-year-old Delen had reportedly misgendered her. “Are you waiting for food delivery, sir?” he said.

Lewis took offense and followed Delen’s car on foot as he attempted to drive off.

The confrontation escalated, ending when Delen stopped his car in the parking lot, exited the car with a firearm, and shot Lewis, hitting her in the left upper torso.

According to a police report, Delen called 911 after the shooting, immediately surrendering to officers who responded to the scene. They took him into custody and found a semi-automatic pistol on his person.

Lewis was transported to a local hospital, where she died from her injuries.

Delen was charged with second-degree murder and first-degree assault. The Bel Air resident was initially held without bond in the Harford County Detention Center. However, following his initial court appearance, Harford County District Administrative Judge Susan Hazlett gave Delen the opportunity to be released on his own recognizance, as long as he remains in home detention and submits to GPS monitoring.

Bel Air police told Baltimore NBC affiliate WBAL that Delen has not yet met other conditions for that release and remains in custody at this time. He is next scheduled to appear in court on January 25 for a preliminary hearing.

Delen’s public defender told CBS affiliate WJZ News that his client had a “strong self-defense argument,” pointing to the fact that he had called 911 and attempted to provide first aid to Lewis after shooting her.

Local community members, who protested outside the Harford County Circuit Courthouse on January 8, said Delen should never have been offered the chance to avoid prison time in the first place, with some arguing that he should be charged with a hate crime.

“You’re letting killers think that it’s okay to kill trans individuals,” Iya Dammons, the executive director of Baltimore Safe Haven, and a friend of Lewis, said at the protest.

“Harford County is sending a message to LGBTQ folks at the end of the day that they are not giving out justice to transgender people,” Dammons added.

Still others questioned why Delen would be eligible for release while awaiting trial, noting that Lewis had been unarmed during the incident.

“It is unconscionable that a person with a second-degree murder charge should be at liberty,” Renee Lau, the executive director for senior and disabled housing at Maryland Safe Haven, told CBS News

The office of Alison Healey, the state’s attorney for Harford County, released a statement noting that prosecutors had requested that Delen be held without bail. While the office said it could not comment on the case’s specifics, it is “working diligently with the Bel Air Police Department and the investigators assigned to this case, who are conducting a thorough investigation examine all evidence, and determine what additional charges are appropriate.”

The 57-year-old Lewis was known to many LGBTQ people in the area as a friendly, warm, and generous woman who had befriended many of them as they were first coming out. A self-described “queer Gen X mama,” Lewis recently opened up her home on Christmas to “queer babies” who might be alone during the holiday season, promising a night of good food, games and camaraderie, according to The Baltimore Banner.

At a January 2 vigil, many LGBTQ community members remembered Lewis as a “bright light” for the community and someone who put others first.

“We are losing a mother in this community,” Lia Scher told WJZ News. “She helped everyone that she could. This woman impacted our community in so many ways. She impacted more people than we can count. She fought for our safety, and this is the least we can do is fight for her.”

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