Scheduling conflict postpones trans murder trial

Scheduling conflict postpones trans murder trial

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A scheduling conflict has postponed the murder trial of Charles N. Sargent, who’s accused of the grisly slashing death of trans woman Diamond Williams.

Sargent’s jury trial was scheduled to begin Dec. 11. But his standby attorney, Benjamin Cooper, was busy with another trial. Sargent intends to serve as his own attorney, with Cooper providing back-up legal assistance. Sargent’s new trial date is Feb. 26.

In July 2013, Sargent allegedly stabbed Williams to death, dismembered her corpse with an ax and deposited her body parts in a vacant lot in Strawberry Mansion.

Sargent told police he acted in self-defense, after Williams became violent during a sexual encounter. However, advocates for Williams dispute that claim.

According to published reports, Sargent had prior violent encounters with trans women in Philadelphia but the alleged encounters weren’t reported until after Williams’ death.

Sargent, 48, is accused of murder, abuse of a corpse and related offenses but prosecutors aren’t seeking the death penalty. He was unemployed at the time of Williams’ alleged murder but previously was employed as a “bouncer” at nightclubs.

Last year, Sargent requested the dismissal of all charges, claiming his right to a speedy trial was violated. But in August 2017, Common Pleas Court Judge Diana L. Anhalt denied Sargent’s request.

Anhalt will preside at Sargent’s jury trial, scheduled to begin 10 a.m. Feb. 26 in Courtroom 807 of the Criminal Justice Center, 1301 Filbert St.

Sargent remains incarcerated at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Northeast Philadelphia, pending the outcome of his trial, according to court records.

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