Suspect in Killing of Transgender Woman Feared for His Life: Attorney

What to Know

  • A 33-year-old Baltimore man was arrested Wednesday in the death of 23-year-old Zoe Spears, police announced Thursday.
  • The suspect was caught in part because of distinctive paint on his rental car. Detectives used license plate readers to find the minivan.
  • Police do not believe the killing of Spears is linked to the killing of Ashanti Carmon, another transgender woman, earlier this year.

The suspect in the death of Zoe Spears, a 23-year-old transgender woman shot to death last month in Prince George's County, feared for his life, according to his attorney. 

Gerardo Thomas, 33, of Baltimore, is charged with first-degree murder and is being held without bond.

Prosecutors stated their case during a preliminary hearing Monday, calling it strong circumstantial evidence. They say Thomas shot Spears after talking to her for about 20 seconds.

Part of the alleged shooting was caught on video, and license plate readers tracked Thomas' car near the scene. His cellphone pinged in the area as well.

Police also recovered a 20-gauge shotgun from Thomas' Baltimore home, and shotgun residue was found in his vehicle.

Thomas also admitted to speaking with a sex worker that night but claims he did not kill Spears.

"We still do not have a motive in this case," Prince George's County police Maj. Brian Reilly said last month. "He was very vague about his involvement, and I’m not going to get too much into the interrogation and interview, however he does place himself on the scene, he does place himself there with a shotgun."

In court Monday Thomas' attorney revealed his client told police he feared for his life and also mentioned that the video did not clearly show who shot Spears.

The judge decided to keep Thomas in custody because of the severity of the charges and because Thomas has been convicted of second-degree assault in the past and has missed several other court hearing.

Thomas is scheduled to be back in court in September.


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Spears was shot multiple times June 13 near Eastern Avenue in Fairmount Heights, an area known for transgender prostitution. 

She was the second trans woman to be killed in the area this year.

Ashanti Carmon was found shot to death in March, and her homicide remains unsolved. She also was shot on Eastern Avenue.

Police are not connecting the two homicides.

Friends said in June Spears told multiple people she had witnessed Carmon's killing and feared for her life.

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