Blade Foundation Announces 2022 Scholarship Recipients

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

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

Lee noted that Shareem Hall’s involvement in Dodds’ murder took place while she was on supervised release in connection with the robbery case, which violated the terms of her release. Lee said the extra two years was for jail time he would have received had he not received a suspended sentence in the robbery 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 sentence. But Lee postponed that sentence until May 10 at the request of Cyheme Hall’s attorney, who said he needed more time to prepare for sentencing.

Shareem Hall’s sentencing came four months after two other men charged with 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 accepted an offer from prosecutors with the United States Attorney’s Office for DC to plead guilty to a single count of voluntary manslaughter in exchange for having murder and other weapons-related charges dropped. and armed robbery.

DC police said Dodds was one of several transgender women targeted for armed robberies by the four men on the night of Dodds’ murder at locations around the city where trans women were known to congregate. Police said Dodds was fatally shot in the neck at close range after she defended herself against her when the men tried to rob her. Cyheme Hall testified at a 2019 trial for Little and Johnson that it was Johnson who shot Dodds.

Prosecutors with the US Attorney’s Office initially listed the case as a hate crime because the four men targeted transgender people for crimes. But the hate crime designation was dropped at trial after Lee ruled there was insufficient evidence to show the motive was hate and not theft.

See also  Ukrainian LGBTQ soldiers fight against the “darkness” of the Russian invasion

In sentencing Shareem Hall on April 22, Lee noted that Hall cooperated with prosecutors after her arrest in the Dodds case in 2016 by agreeing to testify as a prosecution witness in the 2019 trial for Little and Johnson over the murder and the related weapon. charges related to the Dodds murder.

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

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

Court records show no attempt by the Hall brothers’ attorneys to seek the withdrawal of their second-degree murder guilty plea in exchange for the same offer prosecutors made for Little and Johnson for a guilty plea to voluntary manslaughter

Current public court records for the Shareem Hall case reference a guilty plea for Hall, but do not mention that she pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. Instead, records show that Hall has a conviction on three of the original charges related to the murder.

The Washington Blade was unable to immediately reach spokesmen for the DC Superior Court and the US Attorney’s office for an explanation of how the final charges on which Shareem Hall has been sentenced came about. Jonathan Zucker, the attorney representing Cyheme Hall, told Blade outside the courtroom after Shareem Hall’s April 22 sentencing hearing that he didn’t think prosecutors would accept a guilty offer of voluntary manslaughter. for the Hall brothers.

The online court record shows 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 violent crime; and four years for unlawful possession of a firearm in connection with the Dodds case.

See also  Simple steps to reduce care disparities in the LGBTQ community

Although the combined sentences run to 15 years, Lee ordered all three sentences to be served simultaneously, requiring Hall to serve a total of seven years. Lee ordered Hall to serve the seven years in the Dodds case and the two years in the 2013 robbery case consecutively, bringing his total time served to nine years.

However, as is often the practice in these types of criminal cases, Judge Lee credited Hall 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 bail. That means Hall may be eligible for his release in about three and a half years.

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 where his father, known in the family as a drug dealer, , was murdered. in 2009. Jones said that Shareem Hall did not become involved with the criminal justice system until after his father’s murder, which Jones said had “a huge impact” on Hall’s life.

“If his father hadn’t been killed, he might have gone down a different path,” Jones said, adding that his client has expressed remorse for Dodds’ murder. Jones told the court that Hall demonstrated that remorse by becoming a prosecution witness in Johnson and Little’s trial, putting his own life in danger by doing so.

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 stay in DC when he gets out,” Jones said. “He is in danger.”

At that time, Jones requested and received permission from Lee to continue his statement on behalf of his client off the public record. He handed the two assistant US attorneys who were acting as prosecutors and Judge Lee headsets with microphones. The judge then turned on a static noise generator in the courtroom as Jones spoke for just over five minutes before Lee reopened the hearing for the public record.

See also  Fewer women with disabilities use modern contraceptive methods in India: study

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

When Lee asked Hall to speak on his behalf, Hall apologized for his role in Dodds’ murder and said he apologized for his actions to his family and children.

“I have programmed myself to be able to do better, to be able to be a father and a role model for my son,” he said.

“I’m willing to give him a break because I think he helped the government,” Lee told Hall. “But he can’t get a pass,” the judge said. “The shooting death of Mrs. Dodds was one of the most reckless acts I have unfortunately been exposed to,” Lee added. “And the people he chose were among the most vulnerable in the District of Columbia.”

At the time of the December 2021 sentencing for defendants Little and Johnson, the DC Center for the LGBT Community’s Anti-Violence Project submitted a community impact statement to Judge Lee strenuously objecting to the prosecutors’ deal with the County Official. US Attorney to reduce the charge from first degree murder to voluntary manslaughter. The statement asked Lee to hand down the maximum sentence possible under the law.

“[W]We 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 attacked in a way that confirms that the defendants did not care,” the statement said. . “His voice is silenced, but the pain and cry for justice of the LGBTQ+ community rises in honor of his death and demands effective and responsive protection for the lives of all LGBTQ+ people who are the target of future criminals,” says the release.

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