A 22-year-old Maryland man charged on Thursday with the July 4 shooting death of D.C. transgender woman Deeniquia “Dee Dee” Dodds was given an eight-year suspended jail sentence for a conviction of conspiracy to commit a crime of violence while armed one year before he allegedly shot Dodds in the neck near her home on Division Ave., N.E., according to D.C. Superior Court records.
D.C.’s interim police chief, Peter Newsham, announced on Thursday that members of the Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force located and arrested District Heights, Md., resident Shareem Hall on Thursday, Sept. 15, in connection with Dodds’ murder.
Speaking at a news conference in front of police headquarters, Newsham said D.C. police charged Hall with first-degree felony murder while armed in connection with Dodds’ murder.
Dodds died July 13 in a hospital after having been on life support since the day of the July 4 shooting.
Newsham said the motive of the shooting appears to be robbery and that police homicide detectives do not believe Hall and Dodds knew each other prior to the shooting.
Channel 4 News reported that Newsham told reporters a hate crime charge would be “a serious consideration” as the criminal prosecution of Hall moves forward, even though police initially have said no evidence had surfaced indicating the murder was a hate crime.
Some of Dodds’ family members told LGBT activists and members of the news media during a July 16 vigil held in Dodds’ honor outside the family residence that Dodds engaged in commercial sex work at the nearby Eastern Avenue, N.E. strip as a means of survival.
Transgender activists have long expressed concern that sex workers often are subjected to robberies and assaults in areas where sex workers congregate.
Hall allegedly shot Dodds in the neck on the 200 block of Division Ave., N.E. The shooting took place a few blocks from where Dodds lived with family members at the Clay Terrace apartment complex.
Superior court records show that Hall was initially charged on Oct. 4, 2013, with burglary one while armed and burglary two. The Washington Blade couldn’t immediately obtain charging documents providing additional details of the then alleged armed burglary.
But the court’s online docket for the case shows that a grand jury on Jan. 15, 2014, handed down an 18-count indictment against Hall in connection with the case that included three counts of kidnapping while armed, three counts of robbery while armed, destruction of property, two counts of tampering with physical evidence, and two counts of first-degree theft.
The court records show that Hall was initially held without bond but later released after his attorney and prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s office reached a plea bargain agreement that involved the dropping of several charges in exchange for Hall’s agreement to plead guilty to other charges.
The agreement also appears to have included a stipulation that Hall be sentenced under provisions of the city’s Youth Rehabilitation Act, which allows for a less stringent sentence for young offenders thought to be candidates for rehabilitation.
Among the charges to which he pled guilty were conspiracy to commit a crime of violence while armed, tampering with physical evidence, burglary one and two, and first-degree theft, court records show.
The records show that Superior Court Judge William M. Jackson sentenced Hall on June 29, 2015, to a combined jail term of 96 months, which comes to eight years, for the five charges to which he pled guilty. He then suspended all 96 months and placed Hall on probation for three years and on supervised release for five years, the court records show.
According to the court records, Jackson on Aug. 3, 2016 – just over one month after Hall allegedly shot Dodds – signed a show cause order and scheduled a hearing for Aug. 16 to determine whether Hall’s probation should be revoked for an undisclosed reason.
But on Aug. 15, the records show, Jackson “vacated” the hearing, meaning he cancelled it, which allowed Hall to remain free on probation until the time of his arrest on Sept. 15 for Dodds’ murder.
News of Jackson’s decision not to sentence Hall to jail time that might have prevented him from committing an alleged murder is likely to draw further attention to the controversial remarks made last month by former D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier.
Expressing frustration over the large number of violent crimes in the city committed by repeat offenders, Lanier said the city’s criminal justice system operated by federally appointed judges and prosecutors was “broken” and out of control. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said she agreed with Lanier’s comment.