September 14, 2016 at 2:44 pm EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Trans activist’s murder trial postponed
Gigi Thomas, gay news, Washington Blade

Gigi Thomas is accused of first-degree murder. (Photo courtesy Facebook)

The murder trial of D.C. transgender activist Gigi Thomas, which was scheduled to begin Sept. 13 in Prince George’s County Circuit Court, has been postponed until Feb. 27, 2017 at the request of prosecutors.

Court records show that Circuit Court Judge DaNeeka Cotton approved a “joint motion for continuance” of the trial filed on Sept. 2 on grounds that DNA evaluation of evidence submitted by prosecutors had not been completed.

John Irzon, a spokesperson for the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office, which is prosecuting the case, confirmed that a delay in processing DNA evidence was the reason for postponement of the trial.

Prince George’s County police on Oct. 16, 2015 charged Thomas, 46, with first-degree murder for allegedly stabbing to death 47-year-old Devale Lamont Avery inside her residence in Temple Hills, Md.

A police statement of probable cause says police were called to the residence about 7:50 p.m. on Oct. 16 and found Avery unconscious and suffering from multiple stab wounds to the upper body. It says he was pronounced dead on the scene.

The statement says Thomas waived her Miranda rights after being taken to a police facility for questioning and “admitted” her involvement in the murder of Avery. A separate statement released by police says it “appears an argument between the suspect and victim escalated into the fatal stabbing.” She has been held in custody without bond since the time of her arrest.

Thomas’s attorney, David Simpson, has not responded to requests by the Washington Blade for comment.

Friends and associates of Thomas say they believe she has been unfairly charged with first-degree murder and that Thomas stabbed Avery, an estranged friend, after he attempted to rob and assault her. One of her friends, who spoke on condition of not being identified, said Thomas was fearful of being killed in the incident similar to the fate of large numbers of trans women who have been murdered in recent years throughout the country.

Irzon of the State’s Attorney’s office said he didn’t know the cause of the delay in the processing of the DNA evidence. Court records show that prosecutors outsourced the DNA samples in early February to BODE Technology, a Lorton, Va.-based laboratory that specializes in DNA testing.

The testing was originally expected to be completed by May, when an earlier trial date had been set. But prosecutors requested and obtained approval by the judge to postpone the trial until Sept. 13 upon learning the DNA analysis would not be completed in time for a May trial.

The new trial date set for Feb. 27 means the DNA analysis by the Virginia lab is not expected to be completed for more than a year after it was first submitted for analysis.

Thomas, who has a master’s degree in social work from Howard University, has worked for several local organizations that provide services to the transgender community. Those who know her expressed shock over her arrest on a murder charge, saying she worked for years as a community activist and mentor to help people in need.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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