Two South Carolina men were charged following the death of a transgender woman, and one of them is facing a federal hate crime charge, the U.S. Attorney's Office said Wednesday.
Daqua Ritter, 26, was charged with using a firearm in connection with the hate crime and obstruction of justice in the murder of Allendale resident Dime Doe, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a news release.
Ritter fatally shot Doe because of her gender identity, according to the release.
Xavier Pinckney, 24, was also charged with two obstruction offenses for providing false and misleading statements to authorities investigating the murder, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
On Aug. 4, 2019, Ritter shot Doe because of her actual and perceived gender identity, according to an indictment shared by the U.S. Attorney's Office.
That same day, a passerby found the 24-year-old Doe's body in a car, according to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. The Allendale County Sheriff's Office requested SLED's help investigating Doe's death.
Ritter then lied to state investigators about his whereabouts the day of the murder, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
Additionally, Pinckney concealed from state investigators the use of his phone to call and text Doe the day of the shooting and lied to state and federal investigators about seeing Ritter after the morning of the murder, according to the release.
If convicted on the hate crime, Ritter faces a maximum punishment of life in prison, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
The federal obstruction of justice charges Ritter and Pinckney are facing carry a maximum punishment of 20 years behind bars, while Pinckney also could face 5 years in prison if convicted on the lying to federal investigators charge, according to the release.
The FBI's Columbia Field Office investigated the case, with the assistance of SLED.
Just weeks before Doe's death, another transgender woman was killed in South Carolina. Denali Berries Stuckey, 29, was fatally shot in North Charleston on July 20, and her body was found in the street, The State previously reported.
South Carolina is one of two states that does not have any kind of hate crime law on the books, alongside Wyoming.
Hate crime laws enhance the penalty for people who commit crimes based on a person's protected status - race, age, gender, etc.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brook Andrews, Ben Garner, and Elle Klein for the District of South Carolina and trial attorney Andrew Manns of the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division Criminal Section are prosecuting the cases against Ritter and Pinckney.