Man Convicted of Murdering Transgender Woman

A Germantown man has been convicted for murdering a transgender woman who he'd known since middle school.

Rico Leblond, 22, of Germantown, Maryland, was convicted Tuesday after a second trial. His first murder trial, in January, ended in a mistrial after the jury said it couldn't reach a unanimous verdict.

Leblond shot and killed Zella Ziona in October, 2015.

The two had been longtime friends, prosecutors said. But before the murder they argued, and with the help of others Leblond lured Ziona into a Gaithersburg, Maryland alleyway. She was shot several times.

Family members had initially sought hate crime charges against Leblond.

Transgender people face an increased rate of violence, and more transgender people were killed in 2015 -- 21 people -- than in any other year on record, according to the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy organization.

Contact Us