Judge clears way for trans murder trial

Judge clears way for trans murder trial

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A Philadelphia judge last month cleared the way for a December murder trial for Charles N. Sargent, who stands accused of stabbing to death trans woman Diamond Williams, then dismembering her corpse with an ax.

Williams’ murder occurred in July 2013, in the Strawberry Mansion section of the city. 

In addition to murder, Sargent is charged with possessing an instrument of crime, terroristic threats, abuse of a corpse and related offenses.

Sargent requested the dismissal of all charges, claiming his right to a speedy trial was violated. But last month, Common Pleas Court Judge Diana L. Anhalt rejected Sargent’s request, maintaining there were no unlawful delays in scheduling his trial.

Defendants accused of murder who request a trial typically have one within a year of their arrest. Sargent was arrested in July 2013.

But Sargent’s former attorney, J. Michael Farrell, recently was incarcerated in a federal prison in New Jersey after being convicted of offenses relating to witness tampering and money laundering.

Although Sargent will serve as his own attorney during his murder trial, he’ll have the assistance of standby attorney Benjamin Cooper — who requested additional time to become familiar with the case.

Sargent’s jury trial is scheduled to begin 10 a.m. Dec. 11 in Room 807 of the Criminal Justice Center, 1315 Filbert St., according to court records.

Anhalt also rejected Sargent’s request to suppress a statement he allegedly gave to police shortly after his arrest. Sargent claimed the statement was the result of police coercion.

In court papers, Sargent asked that “any and all statements [to police] provided by [me] shall not be received or admitted into evidence and no testimony or comment shall be received respecting the same.”

In his police statement, Sargent indicated that he stabbed Williams in self-defense, after she became violent during a sexual encounter.

Sargent, 48, was unemployed at the time of Williams’ murder. He previously was employed as a bouncer at nightclubs.

Sargent remains incarcerated at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Northeast Philadelphia. 

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