Today (Feb. 20), the first federal trial over a gender identity-based hate crime is set to begin in South Carolina.

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) alleged that Daqua Lameek Ritter fatally shot 24-year-old Pebbles LaDime “Dime” Doe, a Black transgender woman, back in 2019. According to the indictment, Ritter was charged with a hate crime for the murder of a transgender woman because of her gender identity, using a firearm in connection with a hate crime, and obstruction of justice. He faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.

NBC News detailed how Ritter’s friends and girlfriend were said to have learned about his and Doe’s alleged sexual relationship. Prosecutors reportedly believed that the revelation led the suspect to shoot the victim three times in the head in an isolated area before fleeing to New York.

“Hate has no place in South Carolina,” said Adair F. Boroughs, U.S. attorney for the District of South Carolina. “The senseless murder of Dime Doe, and any act of violence against the LGBTQI+ community, confirms the need to confront hate in all its forms. Our office will continue to pursue justice for those impacted by bias-motivated crimes.”

DOJ Civil Rights Division Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke added, “Acts of violence against LGBTQI+ people, including transgender women of color, are on the rise and have no place in our society. The Justice Department remains steadfast in its commitment to investigating and prosecuting those who target LGBTQI+ people with acts of violence or who try to unlawfully obstruct investigations into these heinous crimes.”

Federal hate crime laws didn’t include offenses motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity until 2009, when the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was signed into law by then-President Barack Obama. The first conviction of its kind came in 2017 after a Mississippi man pleaded guilty to killing a 17-year-old transgender woman, receiving 49 years behind bars as a result. Ritter’s case will mark the first time that a gender identity-based hate crime was brought to federal trial.