Metro Weekly

Man Arrested for Holding Trans Woman Hostage After Motel Tryst

Joshua Debarge Lucas was charged with kidnapping and extortion for holding a trans woman at gunpoint following a sexual encounter.

Joshua Debarge Lucas – Photo: Miami-Dade County Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Joshua Debarge Lucas was arrested and charged with kidnapping after holding a transgender woman at gunpoint at a motel while demanding ransom from her friends and family.

The incident occurred on January 14 at the Saturn Motel in Miami’s MiMo District. Lucas and the victim, a transgender woman who “suffers a speech impediment and other issues” allegedly hooked up while high or under the influence of substances, according to police.

As Lucas began to sober up, he realized that the woman was transgender and lashed out at her.

According to police, the victim texted a friend “call me” just before 5:45 p.m. on Friday. That friend, and another, called the victim on FaceTime and saw her in tears after she picked up, reports Miami ABC affiliate WPLG.

The victim’s friends asked her what was wrong and if she was OK, at which point Lucas appeared in the frame. He allegedly demanded $200 or said he would “hurt” the victim,” according to a police report. He told the friends that the money was for “being disrespected” by the trans woman.

When asked how he was disrespected, police said Lucas “stated that he is a (Black) Hebrew Israelite” — a sect united by anti-Semitic, anti-white, anti-LGBTQ, xenophobic, and misogynistic beliefs. They claim to be the true Israelites of the Bible and that Jews have stolen their identity.

Lucas reportedly said in the FaceTime video that “his religion frowns upon homosexual interactions.” He also said he thought the victim was “just a retarded (woman),” the arrest report states.

A male accomplice was on the call with Lucas and told the victim’s friends where to bring the ransom money. The witnesses told police that they could see one of the men had a gun and attempted to screen-record the call.

The witnesses drove to the Miami police station after hanging up and officers responded to the hotel, where they located the victim, but not Lucas or the other man. 

Authorities eventually identified Lucas and tracked him down to his home in Opa-locka, Florida, where they arrested him on Friday, March 1.

While in custody, Lucas allegedly admitted to being upset after finding out that the victim was transgender. He claimed that he had only asked for $20 to repay him for an Uber, claiming the witnesses misheard the amount of money for which he had asked.

“[Lucas] denied holding the victim against their will; however, he stated that following the incident the [accomplice] told him how the incident was like a hostage situation,” the investigating officer wrote in the police report.

Police have not yet identified Lucas’s accomplice. No other arrests have been made at this time. 

Lucas’s comments to police appear to invoke some of the elements typically utilized in a “trans panic” defense, though it is unclear at this time how his lawyer will seek to prove his innocence in court.

Florida does not have a law preventing the use of a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity as justification for a violent act. A bill to ban the so-called “panic” defense failed in the legislature two years ago.

On Saturday, March 2, the day after his arrest, Lucas appeared in court and was ordered held without bail. On Monday, March 5, following a pretrial detention hearing, he was assigned an attorney and submitted a plea of not guilty to the charges against him.

The 34-year-old is currently being held in the Metro West Detention Center and is next scheduled to appear in court on March 22.

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