Charles N. Sargent, accused of the grisly slashing death of trans woman Diamond Williams, is scheduled to have his day in court next week.
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 the Strawberry Mansion section of the city.
He 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 to authorities until after Williams’ death.
Sargent, 48, is charged with 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, Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Diana L. Anhalt denied Sargent’s request.
His former attorney, J. Michael Farrell, recently was sentenced to a federal prison in New Jersey after he was convicted of witness tampering and money laundering in an unrelated case.
Sargent will serve as his own attorney during his trial, but he’ll have the assistance of standby attorney Benjamin Cooper.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, Sargent’s jury trial will begin 10 a.m. Feb. 26 in Room 807 of the Criminal Justice Center, 1315 Filbert St., with Anhalt presiding.
Sargent remains incarcerated at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Northeast Philadelphia.