Shawn Oliver, 46, was acquitted of all charges on Jan. 12 in the murder of Mia Henderson that took place in 2014. Oliver was arrested in August 2015 after police discovered DNA evidence on Henderson’s fingernails that matched Oliver. He had been charged with first-degree murder as well as second-degree murder and first-degree assault.
In opening arguments in court on Tuesday, public defender Isabel Lippman, according to the Baltimore Sun, “blasted the state’s case, saying Oliver had consensual sex with Henderson … the night before she was found dead and then drove back to Hagerstown. She said phone records showed Oliver’s phone in Hagerstown while Henderson was still alive. Assistant State’s Attorney Charles Fitzpatrick said the time of death was unknown.”
Henderson’s body was found July 16, 2014 just before 6 a.m. in an alley in the 3400 block of Piedmont Avenue near Lake Ashburton in Northwest Baltimore. Police alleged that Oliver, a Hagerstown man, stabbed Mia Henderson, 26, in the chest, arms and back, according to charging documents. She was the sibling of NBA player Reggie Bullock.
That murder came just six weeks after the murder of another Baltimore transgender woman, Kandy Hall, whose body was discovered in a Northeast Baltimore field. That case remains open.
The Sun reported that Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby said in a statement that her “heart goes out to the family and friends of Mia Henderson, as well as the entire lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.”
“As prosecutors, we can never guarantee the outcome of a case, but what we do guarantee is to work tirelessly to bring forth the strongest case possible,” she said.
The acquittal was hard for members of Baltimore’s transgender community to take.
“The defense’s argument was layered over cultural biases against the trans community,” Ava Pipitone, executive director of The Baltimore Transgender Alliance, told the Blade.
“There was bias in the defense attorney, the jury, and the lack of code of conduct for officers of the court. The message: you can kill a trans person in this city and walk away. Our hearts go out to Mia’s family.”
Oliver, with a long criminal record, is currently in custody serving a 10-year sentence after pleading guilty on drug charges in Washington County.