July 10, 2020 at 10:15 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Trial in trans murder case postponed due to COVID
Zoe Spears, gay news, Washington Blade
Zoe Spears was shot to death in 2019. (Photo courtesy of Ruby Corado)

The trial for a Baltimore man charged in the June 13, 2019 shooting death of D.C. transgender woman Zoe Spears, 23, on a street just across the D.C. border in Prince George’s County has been postponed from Aug. 17 to an undermined date no sooner than at least October.

A spokesperson for the Prince George’s County Circuit Court said court restrictions put in place related to the coronavirus pandemic have resulted in the postponement of all pending trials at the P.G. County courthouse in Upper Marlboro until the middle of October, when trials were tentatively expected to be rescheduled.

Prince George’s County police on July 18, 2019 charged Gerardo Thomas, 34, with first degree murder in connection with Spears’ death. At the time of his arrest, police said Thomas allegedly shot Spears while he was sitting in a vehicle parked on a street in Fairmount Heights, Md., shortly after Spears approached the car and spoke with him through the front seat passenger side window.

Police have said investigators obtained video from a surveillance camera that captured the shooting on a residential street known as a location where female transgender sex workers congregate. Video from the camera shows Spears appeared to be talking to the driver of a silver colored Dodge Caravan van, police have said.

“Seconds later, what appears to be a muzzle flash can be seen and then the silver Dodge Caravan drives off,” according to a police charging document. “The decedent is seen collapsing to the ground where she is later found by a 911 caller,” the document says.

Based on learning the color, make, and model of the van from the video, which did not show the vehicle’s license plates, police were able to eventually track down the vehicle and identify Thomas as its driver through a massive search of surveillance camera video from nearby streets.

Thomas has been held without bond since the time of his arrest.

Spears’ murder took place less than three months after her friend, transgender woman Ashanti Carmon, 27, was shot to death on March 30, 2019 just a few blocks from where Spears was shot in the same Fairmont Heights neighborhood. Police said they have no evidence to link Carmon’s murder to Thomas, and that the Carmon case remains open without a suspect being identified.

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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