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Transgender Woman's Murder Might Have Been A Hate Crime

Deshawnda Sanchez (Facebook)
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Police have arrested a man they believe is responsible for the death of a transgender woman who was shot after a robbery in December, and they believe the victim's gender identity was a factor in the attack.Deshawnda Sanchez ran to porch of a South Los Angeles house on the 6100 block of South Wilton Place around 4 a.m. on December 3 after being robbed and assaulted, calling 911 while pounding on the front door to ask for help. During the call, she said the suspect had returned and gunshots were heard. LAPD have arrested 30-year old James Spells of Inglewood in connection with her death reports the L.A. Times. According to detective Chris Barling, Spells pulled up to the house in his car and ran out to shoot Sanchez "for no reason" before driving off. A neighbor's security camera caught the incident on tape

"It is not clear cut" whether the Spells could be accused of a hate crime, but Barling said at a news conference, "I think hate was used by Mr. Spells in killing Deshawnda." Authorities haven't elaborated on what she said on the 911 call, but Sanchez's last words would be "helpful in tying together what occurred." Barling also mentioned there was a relationship between Sanchez and Spells, but did not elaborate any further.

Spells was also identified as a suspect in a case from earlier this month involving the sexual assault of a 11-year old girl who was also forced into prostitution.

Sanchez was the third transgender woman killed in a robbery last year in Southern California. Aniya Parker was killed in October in East Hollywood, and Zoraiya Reyes was killed in June in Anaheim. Earlier this month, Yazmin Vash Payne was stabbed to death by her boyfriend in their Van Nuys apartment.