There is a disappointing update to the tragic case of Victoria Carmen White, the model and transgender woman brutally murdered in September 2010. A Newark jury voted to acquit one of the men implicated in her murder on Friday, reports the Star-Ledger.
Authorities say 26-year-old Alrashim Chambers and 27-year-old Marquise Foster met White at a nightclub on 12 September 2010. Only hours later, White was shot three times at point black range inside her cousin's apartment. Twenty-eight-year-old White legally changed her name after undergoing sex reassignment surgery ten years ago. Authorities suspect her killer(s) may have discovered this and killed her in anger.
Both men were initially charged with murder but Foster took a plea deal before the trial began earlier this month. Foster pleaded guilty to hindering apprehension in exchange for his testimony. Chambers faced a murder charge. The jury acquitted Chambers after he and Foster pointed the finger at each other.
The jury found Chambers, of Newark, not guilty of murder, bias intimidation and two weapons offenses. Chambers, 25, who maintained his innocence from the beginning and took the stand in his own defense, had faced up to life in prison if convicted of murder.
The case was a difficult one for the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, because the only witness was Chambers’ co-defendant, Marquise Foster, who testified at trial. Foster, who was also charged with murder, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge in exchange for his testimony against Chambers.
Foster, 26, said Chambers had been hugging and kissing White that evening, but became enraged when he suspected she was a man. "You a dude?" Foster claimed Chambers shouted at White. Three gunshots followed seconds later, he said. The .22-caliber handgun allegedly used in the killing was never recovered.
Alrashim Chambers claimed that he had no idea that White was transgender female and had no reason to hurt her. Chambers testified that he left the apartment and Foster was the killer, the Star-Ledger reported earlier last week.
In a calm and clear voice, Chambers denied the allegation, claiming he was in the vestibule of the Maplewood apartment building when he heard three gunshots. He said he had left the apartment and gone to his vehicle to retrieve marijuana. ... Chambers said he soon left the studio apartment when he noticed Foster and White were "in motion" to have a sexual encounter and didn’t want to watch. After the shooting, Foster emerged from the building, Chambers said, and refused to tell him what had happened. The two then drove off.
Chambers and Foster surrendered several weeks later after authorities had secured arrest warrants. Foster, who was also charged with murder, has since pleaded guilty to hindering apprehension in exchange for his testimony.
There were no other witnesses to the killing, though White’s female cousin and another woman were in the bathroom at time with the door closed. Both women testified that only Chambers and White were the ones getting close. From behind the closed door, the women said they heard someone say, "You a dude?" followed by the sound of gunshots.
Foster and Chambers surrendered only days after authorities captured another man in an unrelated homicide that happened in the same town of Maplewood. On Oct. 19 2010, 30-year-old John Staten was arrested and charged with murder in the beating death of Arthur Downey, a 27-year-old Black gay man killed on March 15 2010. Downey met his would-be-killer on a telephone chat line.
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