Man Arrested in Murder of a Transgender Woman in California

Man Arrested in Murder of a Transgender Woman in California

Robert James Spells has also been charged of raping an 11-year-old girl.

Published March 3, 2015

In a Los Angeles court, 30-year-old Robert James Spells was charged with capital murder for killing 21-year-old transgender woman Deshawnda “Ta-Ta” Sanchez while robbing her last December. It's been reported that she called 911 at 4 a.m., saying she had been attacked. While she banged on doors begging for help, she was killed. 

Sanchez was loved by her family and friends, the Los Angeles Times reported. Tragically, the "outgoing" and "funny" young woman's life was taken before she could achieve her dreams of being a doctor or lawyer. 

Unfortunately, murders of women like Sanchez are not rare. 

Last year, there were 12 murders on the books, including Sanchez’s. And while we are only in March 2015, we have seen an uptick of murders of trans women of color, with five reported so far.

And despite the fact that the Los Angeles police department believed that Sanchez’s gender identity played a factor in her murder, Spells has not been charged with a hate crime for her death.

It’s believed that Smalls and Sanchez knew each other, but the police have yet to elaborate on the details of their relationship, writes the Los Angeles Times.

Smalls is also a suspect in the alleged rape of an 11-year-old girl in mid-February and charged with six other felonies, including second-degree robbery and two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child. 

If found guilty, Smalls could face life in prison. 

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(Photo: Los Angeles Police Department via ABC7 Eyewitness News Los Angeles)

Written by Kellee Terrell

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