Connect with us

District of Columbia

Man charged in D.C. trans murder case sentenced to seven years

Judge adds two additional years for probation violation in burglary

Published

on

Deeniquia ‘Dee Dee’ Dodds was killed in 2016.

A D.C. Superior Court judge on April 22 sentenced one of four men charged with first-degree murder while armed for the July 4, 2016, shooting death of transgender woman Deeniquia “Dee Dee” Dodds on a street in Northeast Washington to seven years in jail for the murder.

Judge Milton C. Lee sentenced Shareem Hall, 28, to an additional two years in jail for violating his probation in an unrelated conviction for a 2013 home invasion burglary, bringing his total sentence to nine years.

Lee pointed out that Shareem Hall’s involvement in the Dodds murder took place while he was on supervised release in connection with the burglary case, which violated the terms of his release. Lee said the additional two years were for the jail time he would have received had he not been given a suspended sentence in the burglary case.

Hall’s brother, Cyheme Hall, 26, who was also charged with first-degree murder while armed in the Dodds murder case, appeared in court on April 22 for what was expected to be his sentencing. But Lee postponed that sentencing until May 10 at the request of Cyheme Hall’s attorney, who said he needed more time to prepare for the sentencing.

Shareem Hall’s sentencing came four months after two other men charged in the Dodds murder – Jalonta Little, 31, and Monte T. Johnson, 26 — were sentenced by Lee to eight years in jail in the Dodds murder case.

Their sentencing came after they agreed to an offer by prosecutors with the Office of the United States Attorney for D.C. to plead guilty to a single charge of voluntary manslaughter in exchange for the murder charge and other gun related and armed robbery charges being dropped.

D.C. police said Dodds was one of several transgender women that the four men targeted for armed robberies on the night of Dodds’s murder in locations in the city where trans women were known to congregate. Police said Dodds was fatally shot in the neck at point blank range after she fought back when the men attempted to rob her. Cyheme Hall testified at a 2019 trial for Little and Johnson that it was Johnson who shot Dodds.

Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office initially listed the case as a hate crime because the four men were targeting transgender people for crimes. But the hate crime designation was dropped at the time of the trial after Lee ruled that there was insufficient evidence to prove the motive was hate rather than robbery.

In handing down his sentence on April 22 for Shareem Hall, Lee noted that Hall cooperated with prosecutors after his arrest in the Dodds case in 2016 by agreeing to testify as a prosecution witness at the 2019 trial for Little and Johnson on the murder and related gun charges in connection with the Dodds murder.

Lee, who presided over the trial, declared a mistrial after the jury was unable to reach a verdict. Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office initially said they planned to bring the two men up for another trial. But that never happened, and the case remained in limbo for a little over two years until the plea agreement for the voluntary manslaughter charge was reached last year.

Court records at the time showed that shortly before the 2019 trial for Little and Johnson, both Hall brothers accepted an offer by prosecutors to plead guilty to a charge of second-degree murder in addition to each agreeing to testify at the combined trial for Little and Johnson.

Court records do not show any attempt by the Hall brothers’ attorneys to seek a withdrawal of their guilty plea to second-degree murder in exchange for the same offer prosecutors made for Little and Johnson for a voluntary manslaughter plea.

The current public court records for the Shareem Hall case make a reference to a guilty plea by Hall but make no mention of his having pled guilty to second-degree murder. Instead, the records show Hall having a conviction for three of the original murder related charges.

A spokesperson for the D.C. Superior Court could not be immediately reached by the Washington Blade for an explanation of how the ultimate charges for which Shareem Hall has been sentenced came about. Jonathan Zucker, the attorney representing Cyheme Hall, told the Blade outside the courtroom, following the April 22 sentencing hearing for Shareem Hall, that he didn’t think prosecutors would agree to a plea offer of voluntary manslaughter for the Hall brothers.

The court docket states that at the April 22 sentencing hearing, Lee sentenced Shareem Hall to seven years for Murder 1 While Armed; four years for Conspiracy to Commit a Crime of Violence; and four years for Unlawful Possession of a Firearm in connection with the Dodds case.

Although the combined sentences come to 15 years, the docket shows that Lee ordered that the three sentences be served concurrently, requiring Hall to serve a total of seven years. Lee ordered that Hall serve the seven years in the Dodds case and the two years for the 2013 burglary case consecutively, bringing his total time served to nine years.

However, as is often the practice in this type of criminal case, Judge Lee gave Hall credit for the five and a half years he has already served in jail since the time of his arrest for the Dodds case in September 2016, for which he has been held without bond. That means Hall can be eligible for release in about three and a half years.

William Miller, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said his office confirmed that Judge Lee sentenced Shareem Hall to the seven years in prison in the Dodds case based on a single charge of second-degree murder. “I’m not sure why the docket reads like it does,” he said, referring to the online court docket stating that Lee linked his seven-year sentence to the charges of Murder 1, Conspiracy to Commit a Crime of Violence, and Unlawful Possession of a Firearm.  

Dorsey Jones, Shareem Hall’s attorney, told Lee at the sentencing hearing that his client, who has a girlfriend and two children, grew up in a high crime neighborhood in which his father, who was known to the family as a drug dealer, was murdered in 2009. Jones said Shareem Hall did not become involved with the criminal justice system until after his father’s murder, which Jones said had “a big impact” Hall’s life.

“Had his father not been murdered, he may have gone down a different path,” said Jones, who added that his client has expressed remorse over the Dodds murder. Jones told the court that Hall demonstrated that remorse by becoming a prosecution witness at the trial of Johnson and Little, placing his own life in danger by doing that.

According to Jones, Johnson and Little, who will be released from prison within the next four years, and people associated with them will likely take steps to retaliate against Hall for testifying against Little and Johnson at their trial. “He can’t remain in D.C. when he gets out,” Jones said. “He is in danger.”

At that point Jones requested and received permission from Lee to continue his statement on his client’s behalf off the public record. He handed the two assistant U.S. Attorneys serving as prosecutors and Judge Lee earphones with a mic. The judge then turned on a static sound noisemaker in the courtroom while Jones spoke for a little over five minutes before Lee reopened the hearing for the public record.

Jones then concluded by asking Lee to sentence Hall to seven years with five years’ probation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sharon Donovan told Lee the government agreed with the seven-year sentence request.

When Lee asked Hall to speak on his own behalf, Hall apologized for his role in the Dodds murder and said he has apologized for his actions to his family and his kids.

“I’ve programmed myself so I can do better, so I can be a father and a role model for my son,” he said.

“I’m willing to give you some break because I think you were of assistance to the government,” Lee told Hall. “But you can’t get a pass,” the judge said. “The shooting death of Ms. Dodds was one of the most senseless acts I’ve unfortunately been exposed to,” Lee added. “And the individuals you picked on were among the most vulnerable in the District of Columbia.”

At the time of the December 2021 sentencing for defendants Little and Johnson, the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community’s Anti-Violence Project submitted a community impact statement to Judge Lee strongly objecting to the agreement by prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Officer to lower the charge from first-degree murder to voluntary manslaughter. The statement called on Lee to hand down the maximum sentence possible under the law.

“[W]e ask that you take into consideration the perceived vulnerability of the victim of the defendants’ violent crimes as a transgender woman of color whose rights and life were targeted in a way that confirms they did not matter to the defendants,” the statement says. “Her voice is silenced, but the grief and outcry for justice from the LGBTQ+ community rises in honor of her death and demands effective and responsive protection for the lives of all LGBTQ+ people targeted by future criminals,” the statement says.

Court records for the Shareem Hall case do not show a similar community impact statement from an LGBTQ organization was submitted to the judge.

Advertisement
FUND LGBTQ JOURNALISM
SIGN UP FOR E-BLAST

District of Columbia

Bernie Delia, attorney, beloved Capital Pride organizer, dies at 64

Activist worked at Justice Department, White House as attorney

Published

on

Capital Pride, No Justice, No Pride, gay news, Washington Blade
Bernie Delia (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Bernie Delia, a founding member of the Capital Pride Alliance, the group that organizes most D.C. LGBTQ Pride events, and who served most recently as co-chair of World Pride 2025, which D.C. will be hosting next June, died unexpectedly on Friday, according to a statement released by Capital Pride Alliance. He was 64.

“It is with great sadness that the Capital Pride Alliance mourns the passing of Bernie Delia,” the statement says. “We will always reflect on his life and legacy as a champion, activist, survivor, mentor, friend, leader, and a true inspiration to the LGBTQ+ community.”

The statement says that in addition to serving six years as the Capital Pride Alliance board president, Delia served for several years as president of Dignity Washington, the local LGBTQ Catholic organization, where he helped create “an environment for spiritual enrichment during the height of the AIDS epidemic.”

“He also had a distinguished legal career, serving as one of the first openly gay appointees at the U.S. Department of Justice and later as an appellate attorney,” the statement reads.

Delia’s LinkedIn page shows that he worked at the U.S. Department of Justice for 26 years, serving as an assistant U.S. attorney from 2001 to 2019. Prior to that, he served from 1997 to 2001 as associate deputy attorney general and from 1994 to 1997 served as senior counsel to the director of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, which provides executive and administrative support for 93 U.S. attorneys located throughout the country.

His LinkedIn page shows he served from January-June 1993 as deputy director of the Office of Presidential Personnel during the administration of President Bill Clinton, in which he was part of the White House staff. And it shows he began his career as legal editor of the Bureau of National Affairs, which published news reports on legal issues, from 1983-1993.

The Capital Pride Alliance statement describes Delia as an avid runner who served as the coordinator of the D.C. Front Runners and Stonewall Kickball LGBTQ sports groups.

“He understood the value, purpose, and the urgency of the LGBTQ+ community to work together and support one another,” the statement says. “He poured his soul into our journey toward World Pride, which was a goal of his from the start of his involvement with Capital Pride.”

The statement adds, “Bernie will continue to guide us forward to ensure we meet this important milestone as we gather with the world to be visible, heard, and authentic. We love you, Bernie!”

Continue Reading

District of Columbia

D.C. Council budget bill includes $8.5 million in LGBTQ provisions

Measure also changes Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs

Published

on

The D.C. Council approved Mayor Muriel Bowser’s budget proposal calling for $5.25 million in funding for World Pride 2025. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The D.C. Council on June 12 gave final approval for a $21 billion fiscal year 2025 budget for the District of Columbia that includes more than $8.5 million in funding for LGBTQ-related programs, including $5.25 million in support of the June 2025 World Pride celebration that D.C. will be hosting.

Also included in the budget is $1.7 million in funds for the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, which includes an increase of $132,000 over the office’s funding for the current fiscal year, and a one-time funding of $1 million for the completion of the renovation of the D.C. Center for the LGBTQ Community’s new building in the city’s Shaw neighborhood.

The D.C. LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition earlier this year asked both the D.C. Council and Mayor Muriel Bowser to approve $1.5 million for the D.C. Center’s building renovation and an additional $300,000 in “recurring” funding for the LGBTQ Center in subsequent years “to support ongoing operational costs and programmatic initiatives.” In its final budget measure, the Council approved $1 million for the renovation work and did not approve the proposed $600,000 in annual operational funding for the center.

The mayor’s budget proposal, which called for the $5.25 million in funding for World Pride 2025, did not include funding for the D.C. LGBTQ Center or for several other funding requests by the LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition.

At the request of D.C. Council member Zachary Parker (D-Ward 5), the Council’s only gay member, the Council approved at least two other funding requests by the LGBTQ+ Budget Coalition in addition to the funding for the LGBTQ Center. One is $595,000 for 20 additional dedicated housing vouchers for LGBTQ residents who face housing insecurity or homelessness. The LGBTQ housing vouchers are administered by the Office of LGBTQ Affairs.

The other funding allocation pushed by Parker is $250,000 in funds to support a Black LGBTQ+ History Commission and Black LGBTQIA+ history program that Parker proposed that will also be administered by the LGBTQ Affairs office.

Also at Parker’s request, the Council included in its budget bill a proposal by Parker to change the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs to become a “stand-alone entity” outside the Executive Office of the Mayor. Parker told the Washington Blade this change would “allow for greater transparency and accountability that reflects its evolution over the years.”

He said the change would also give the person serving as the office’s director, who is currently LGBTQ rights advocate Japer Bowles, “greater flexibility to advocate for the interest of LGBTQ residents” and give the Council greater oversight of the office. Parker noted that other community constituent offices under the mayor’s office, including the Office of Latino Affairs and the Office of Veterans Affairs, are stand-alone offices.

The budget bill includes another LGBTQ funding provision introduced by D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) that allocates $100,000 in grants to support LGBTQ supportive businesses in Ward 6 that would be awarded and administered by the Office of LGBTQ Affairs. Allen spokesperson Eric Salmi said Allen had in mind two potential businesses on 8th Street, S.E. in the Barracks Row section of Capitol Hill as potential applicants for the grants.

One is the LGBTQ café and bar As You Are, which had to close temporarily earlier this year due to structural problems in the building it rents. The other potential applicant, Salmi said, is Little District Books, D.C.’s only LGBTQ bookstore that’s located on 8th Street across the street from the U.S. Marine Barracks.

“It’s kind of recognizing Barrack’s Row has a long history of creating spaces that are intended for and safe for the LGBTQ community and wanting to continue that history,” Salmi said  “So, that was his kind of intent behind the language in that funding.”

The mayor’s budget proposal also called for continuing an annual funding of $600,000 to provide workforce development services for transgender and gender non-conforming city residents experiencing homelessness and housing instability.

Continue Reading

District of Columbia

Accused drug dealer charged with fentanyl distribution leading to deaths of two D.C. gay men

June 13 indictment links previously arrested suspect to deaths

Published

on

(Bigstock photo)

The Office of the U.S. Attorney for D.C. has announced that federal prosecutors on June 13 obtained an indictment against one of two D.C. brothers previously charged with multiple counts of illegal drug distribution that now charges him with “distributing cocaine and fentanyl” on Dec. 26, 2023, that resulted in the deaths of D.C. gay men Brandon Roman and Robert “Robbie” Barletta.

In a June 13 press release, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Jevaughn ‘Ledo’ Mark, 32, is charged in a new “secondary superseding indictment” linked to the Roman and Barletta deaths. It says he and his brother, Angelo Mark, 30, “previously were charged on April 9 in a 17-count superseding indictment for participating in a conspiracy that distributed large amounts of fentanyl and cocaine in the metropolitan area.”

The press release says Jevaughn Mark is currently being held without bond on charges that include eight counts of unlawful distribution of fentanyl, cocaine, and heroin and distributing 40 grams or more of fentanyl between Jan. 10, 2024, and March 13, 2024. According to the press release, the charges were based on six illegal drug purchases from Jevaughn Mark by undercover U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and undercover D.C. police officers.

Court records show that Angelo Mark was charged in a criminal complaint on March 22 with multiple counts of conspiracy to distribute narcotics and is also being held without bond.

D.C. police and Fire and Emergency Medical Services reports show that Roman, 38, a prominent D.C. attorney and LGBTQ rights advocate, and Barletta, 28, a historic preservation expert and home renovation business owner, were found unconscious when police and emergency medical personnel responded to a 911 call and arrived at Barletta’s home on Dec. 27. The reports show that Roman was declared deceased at the scene and Barletta was taken to Washington Hospital Center where he died on Dec. 29.

A police spokesperson told the Washington  Blade in February that police were investigating the Roman and Barletta deaths, but investigators had to wait for the D.C. Medical Examiner’s official determination of the cause and manner of death before the investigation could fully proceed.

Both men were patrons at D.C. gay bars and their passing prompted many in the LGBTQ community to call for stepped up prevention services related to drug overdose cases, even though the cause and manner of death for the two men was not officially determined until early April.

In April, the D.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner disclosed that the cause of death for both men was an accidental consumption of several drugs that created a fatal “toxic” effect. The Medical Examiner’s office said Barletta’s death was linked to the consumption of at least four different drugs and Roman’s death was caused by the “combined toxic effect” of six drugs. The Medical Examiner’s office disclosed that cocaine and fentanyl were among the drugs found in the bodies of both men. And for both men, the manner of death was listed as “Accident/Intoxication.”

When the cause and manner of death were disclosed by the Medical Examiner, D.C. police spokesperson Tom Lynch said the police investigation into the deaths remained open but said, “There are no updates on the investigation that we are ready to release to the public.”

But the Medical Examiner’s findings prompted Johnny Bailey, the community outreach coordinator for HIPS D.C., an LGBTQ supportive organization that provides services and support for those who use recreational drugs, to say he strongly believed that Barletta and Roman did not intentionally consume some of the drugs found in their system.

“I’m going to say I do believe this was a poisoning,” Bailey told the Blade. “I think it is unfair to call some things an overdose because an overdose is when you do too much of a drug and you die from that drug,” he said. “This is like if you have a few glasses of wine every night and someone puts arsenic in your wine, no one would be like, ‘oh, they drank themselves to death.’ They were poisoned. And that’s what I think is happening here,” he said in referring to Barletta and Roman.

In announcing the new charges against Jevaughn Mark that link him to Barletta and Roman’s deaths, the U.S. Attorney’s press release discloses that he supplied fentanyl in the drugs he sold unknowingly to the undercover DEA and D.C. police officers when one of the officers, posing as a drug buyer, did not ask for fentanyl.

“In each instance, the DEA/MPD agents requested to buy ‘Special K’ or Ketamine from Jevaughn Mark,” the press release says. “In every instance, Jevaughn Mark supplied a mixture of fentanyl and other substances, including heroin, but not ketamine,” it says.

The release says that after the earlier indictment against Jevaughn Mark was issued, law enforcement agents conducted a search of his Southeast D.C. home and “recovered two firearms, cocaine, fentanyl, about $38,000 in cash, body armor vests, and drug trafficking paraphernalia.” It says on that same day authorities executed another search for a second residence linked to Jevaughn Mark, where they located a bedroom used by his brother Angelo Mark.

“From Angelo Mark’s bedroom, law enforcement recovered seven firearms, 900 rounds of ammunition, dozens of pills, cocaine, fentanyl, drug trafficking paraphernalia, and about $50,000 in cash,” the press release says, adding, “Based on the evidence, both brothers were indicted in the first superseding indictment.” 

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast

Follow Us @washblade

Advertisement

Popular