Progress has been made in the murder of a Tampa transgender woman, with the alleged killer being indicted with two counts of premeditated first-degree murder with a weapon.
Damien Marshall, 41, was indicted for the murders of Jenny De Leon and Linda Harris on March 24 and is scheduled for a hearing before Judge Lyann Goudie on June 22.
De Leon was 25 when she was found stabbed to death on Nov. 2 outside of a home in the Tampa neighborhood of Sulphur Springs. Harris was also found stabbed to death in a Tampa home on Sept. 27; according to the criminal report, the person who called 911 told the operator that the home was set for demolition that day.
Construction workers were doing a walkthrough of the property when they came across her body, WFLA reports.
Marshall was already on probation for dealing in stolen property and was arrested for “unrelated charges.” During questioning with police, he identified himself in a surveillance video near the murder scene. He also told police that he was aware the two women were stabbed to death; that information was not made public. He claimed in both cases that he was with the women but that they were alive and unharmed when he left them.
He agreed to a mouth swab and his DNA matched saliva left on Harris’ body and skin found under De Leon’s nails. A Mickey Mouse belt with a red stain, identified as belonging to Harris, was also found in his home.
Marshall is being represented by a public defender and plead not guilty to the crimes. Due to the heinous nature of the crimes, he is being detained until trial.
De Leon was one of 51 transgender or gender non-conforming people who were killed in 2021, the highest number of records since the Human Rights Campaign started tracking the data in 2013. Since 2015, 23 of those cases involved people in Florida.
When news of her murder came to light, PFLAG Tampa wrote in a Facebook tribute, “Jenny was an enigmatic, bright soul with enough energy to fill any room.”
Damien Marshall. Courtesy of Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.