Charles N. Sargent, who is accused of murdering trans woman Diamond Williams, told authorities he had anal sex with Williams without realizing her transgender status, a Philadelphia detective said this week.
On March 1, Det. Joseph Bamberski testified during Sargent's trial that the defendant admitted having intercourse with Williams shortly before her death.
Sargent made the admission in a "supplemental" statement given to police on July 19, 2013, Bamberski told jurors.
"I let [Williams] give me a blow job to get me hard. Then, I had anal sex with the person," Sargent allegedly said. "He wanted me to hit him from behind. After it was over and he stood up, that's when I realized it was a dude ... I just lost it when I found out it was a guy. I should have called the cops when it first happened."
Sargent also said Williams pulled out a boxcutter and demanded payment of $40 pursuant to a prior agreement. However, Bamberski said a boxcutter linked to Williams was never located.
In an earlier police statement, Sargent claimed his sexual activity with Williams was limited to oral sex. But after police located a used condom linked to Sargent, he allegedly changed his story.
Sargent is charged with first-degree murder but claims he acted in self-defense after getting into a fight with Williams inside a Strawberry Mansion row home he shared with a girlfriend.
More incriminating testimony came from Officer Frank Sackosky, who said he transported Sargent to the city's homicide unit in July 2013. Sackosky told jurors that while Sargent was inside a police van, he openly acknowledged killing a "transvestite."
"I committed a homicide," Sargent allegedly told Sackowsky. The officer added: "[Sargent] proceeded to say he picked up a transvestite and killed him."
Sargent, 48, is serving as his own attorney during the trial. When cross-examining Sackosky, Sargent distanced himself from the remarks attributed to him by the officer.
Outside the courtroom, Dawn S. Munro, a local trans advocate, expressed her opinion that it's "highly implausible" Sargent wasn't aware of Williams' trans status.
Sargent's trial began Feb. 26 in Center City and is expected to run through next week.
Munro said she's attending the trial to honor Williams' memory.
"She received so little respect in life," she said. "If I can honor her memory by being here, so be it. The way she was treated in death — her dismemberment — that's the ultimate in disrespect."
Munro was encouraged when Common Pleas Judge Diana L. Anhalt told Sargent to refer to the victim in a manner consistent with her gender identity.
"I was heartened when Judge Anhalt corrected the defendant and instructed him to use gender-appropriate pronouns [for Williams]," Munro said.
The misgendering of Williams has been an issue throughout Sargent's trial. For example, Det. Paul Guercio read to jurors an 18-page transcript of his questioning of Sargent in July 2013.
In the transcript, Guercio repeatedly misgendered Williams when questioning Sargent about her death.
But when cross-examined by Sargent this week, Guercio appeared more deferential of Williams' gender identity. The detective referred to the victim as "Ms. Diamond" and voiced gender-appropriate pronouns.
Prosecutor Kristen J. Kemp has built a case against Sargent by presenting forensic evidence to jurors. But due to an evidence-retention mishap a few years ago, blood collected at the crime scene cannot be linked scientifically to Williams.
None of the evidence establishes the exact time of Williams' death. Thus, it remains possible that Sargent didn't kill her until after his girlfriend entered their Strawberry Mansion residence and Sargent feigned outrage at Williams' trans status. The actual sequence of events may never be publicly known, courtroom observers noted.