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A defense attorney for Charles Sargent, the accused murderer of trans woman Diamond Williams, says prosecutors are unfairly withholding evidence in the case.

Sargent, 46, is charged with murder, possessing an instrument of crime, abuse of a corpse and related offenses.

The case is in the discovery phase, which means both sides must share evidence to assist in adjudicating the matter.

J. Michael Farrell, an attorney for Sargent, recently filed a motion requesting that the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office be compelled to turn over evidence in the case.

Several months ago, Farrell requested numerous evidentiary items from the D.A.’s Office that continue to be withheld, according to the motion.

The requested items include: all names and addresses of eyewitnesses; all written and recorded statements of eyewitnesses the D.A. intends to call at trial; all written and recorded statements made by co-conspirators or accomplices of Sargent, whether such individuals have been charged or not; and a detailed explanation of any expert testimony to be presented at trial.

At presstime, Common Pleas Judge Lillian H. Ransom hadn’t ruled on Farrell’s request.

Cameron Kline, a spokesperson for D.A. Seth Williams, said only: “Because this is an active case, it’s not appropriate for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office to comment.”

Sargent allegedly invited Williams to his Strawberry Mansion residence during the early-morning hours of July 14, 2013. Sargent told police he stabbed Williams inside his residence after she demanded a pre-arranged payment of $40 for performing oral sex. Sargent said he refused to make the payment because Williams had a penis.

After stabbing Williams, Sargent allegedly dismembered her body with an axe and deposited her body parts in a vacant lot.

Police refuse to classify the incident as a hate crime, though Sargent filed an “affidavit of truth” with the court, indicating an intense dislike of trans people.

A one-week jury trial will begin March 14 in Room 807 of the Criminal Justice Center, 1301 Filbert St. Assistant District Attorney Kristen J. Kemp will serve as prosecutor.

In a related matter, Ransom recently ordered Sargent to undergo a buccal swab so that prosecutors can obtain his DNA as part of their investigation. A buccal swab is a way to collect DNA from the inside of a person’s cheek. It’s relatively non-invasive and routinely utilized for criminal investigations. 

“The sample shall be taken by a representative of the Philadelphia Police Department or the District Attorney’s Office for purposes of DNA analysis and comparison,” Ransom’s order states. 

Additionally, a hearing on a request by Sargent to suppress his police statement will take place 10 a.m. Feb. 16 in Courtroom 807 of the Criminal Justice Center.

Neither side had a comment for this story.

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


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