Metro Weekly

South Carolina Man Found Guilty of Killing Transgender Woman

Daqua Lameek Ritter, of Allendale, S.C., is the first person to stand trial for a hate crime motivated by a victim's gender identity.

Pebbles LaDime Doe, Daqua Lameek Ritter

Following a four-day trial, Daqua Lameek Ritter, of South Carolina, was found guilty by a federal jury of a hate crime for the murder of Dime Doe (a.k.a. Pebbles LaDime Doe).

Ritter’s conviction marks the first ever under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act for violence directed at a transgender person.

While others have been prosecuted for hate crimes motivated by anti-transgender animus, none of those other cases ever went to trial.

At trial, prosecutors argued that Ritter had been involved in a sexual relationship with Doe, and became upset after rumors of their affair began to circulate around their hometown of Allendale, South Carolina.

While Doe’s transgender identity was publicly known to many, Ritter sought to keep their relationship covert, demanding that she delete text messages they had exchanged from her phone. 

Shortly before Doe’s death, their exchanges became more tense, with Doe complaining that Ritter did not reciprocate her generosity, to which he reportedly replied that he thought they had an understanding she didn’t need the “extra stuff.”

Ritter also told Doe that Delasia Green, his main girlfriend at the time, had insulted him and called him a homophobic slur after learning he was sleeping with a transgender woman, which upset him greatly. Doe subsequently said she felt “used” and chastised Ritter for letting Green find out about their relationship, according to The Associated Press

Desperate to keep the affair secret, Ritter lured Doe to a remote area outside of Allendale on August 4, 2019, shooting her three times in the head with a .22 caliber handgun. He then burned the clothes he was wearing during the crime, disposed of the murder weapon, and lied to law enforcement about his whereabouts.

Ritter had told police during an interview that he did not see Doe on the day she was killed. But body camera video from a traffic stop of Doe showed Ritter’s distinctive left wrist tattoo on a person in the passenger seat of her car. Prosecutors also presented DNA evidence showing that Ritter had been inside Doe’s car.

Additionally, several people testified that they had seen Ritter ride away in a silver car with tinted windows — a vehicle that Doe had previously been seen driving — only to later return in a new outfit and appearing “on edge.”

One of Ritter’s acquaintances testified at trial that he saw Ritter empty his book bag into a fire in a barrel that a group of his friends had built. That person ran into Ritter the following day, at which point Ritter asked him to dispose of the .22 caliber handgun. 

Others testified that when Ritter was emptying his book bag into the fire — ostensibly to dispose of the clothes he had been wearing — he reportedly said, “Nobody gonna have to worry about [Doe] anymore.” 

Even one of Ritter’s cousins testified he was agitated and couldn’t stop pacing, and only smirked when asked if he had killed Doe. Another cousin claimed in court that Ritter had confessed to killing Doe and asked him to keep it a secret. 

Prosecutors also claimed that Ritter had fled to New York and monitored the situation from afar, corresponding with a friend through Facebook. That friend, Xavier Pinckney, warned Ritter not to return to Allendale because he had been visited by state police, claiming somebody was “snitching.”

Pinckney faces charges of obstructing justice, and federal officials allege he gave false and misleading statements to police investigators.

Ritter’s defense attorneys argued that there were several inconsistencies in the witnesses’ testimony and that the text messages presented by prosecutors did not present a full picture of the relationship between Ritter and Doe. They suggested that at least one of the witnesses had lied on the stand.

Defense attorney Lindsey Vann also argued that there was no physical evidence linking Ritter to the crime and that the DNA evidence showing he had been in Doe’s car was not unusual, given that the two had spent a great deal of time together, including riding around together.

The jury disagreed, finding Ritter guilty. 

While prosecutors have chosen not to pursue the death penalty in the case, Ritter could be sentenced to up to life in prison. A sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.

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