January 15, 2017 at 6:27 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Judge declares mistrial in death of Md. transgender woman

Zella Ziona, gay news, Washington Blade

Zella Ziona (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

A Montgomery County judge on Friday declared a mistrial in the case of a man who prosecutors said killed a transgender woman in 2015.

NBC Washington reported Circuit Court Judge Anne Albright declared the mistrial after a jury deadlocked on whether to find Rico LeBlond guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Zella Ziona.

Prosecutors allege that LeBlond shot Ziona in the head and groin in an alley behind a shopping center in Gaithersburg, Md., on Oct. 15, 2015. Ziona died at a local hospital a short time later.

John McCarthy of the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office told the Washington Blade that LeBlond and Ziona had known each other since they were in middle school. McCarthy also said LeBlond and Ziona “had some type of relationship that we believe was a romantic relationship” that began after she transitioned.

NBC Washington said prosecutors plan to retry LeBlond this summer.

Ziona is among the more than 20 trans people of color who were reported killed in the U.S. in 2015.

A Baltimore jury last week acquitted Shawn Oliver of Hagerstown, Md., of all charges in connection with the 2014 murder of Mia Henderson.

Prosecutors alleged that Oliver stabbed Henderson in the chest, arms and back in an alley near Lake Ashburnton in Northwest Baltimore.

Henderson’s brother is Reggie Bullock of the Detroit Pistons.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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