- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 29, 2011

A 20-year-old D.C. man on Thursday admitted to shooting a transgender woman in the neck earlier this month after she declined his solicitation for a sex act.

Darryl Willard pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated assault while armed in D.C. Superior Court, prosecutors said.

The felony charge stemmed from a Sept. 12 incident in which the 26-year-old transgender woman picked up Willard in a Southeast neighborhood in her car. The two had known each other for more than a year and had engaged in paid sex acts previously, according to court documents filed in the case.

When the woman turned down Willard’s request for sex, he got out of her car and pointed a gun at her demanding money, according to court documents. When she refused, he shot her once in the neck.

The bullet punctured both of her lungs and lodged next to her heart, where it remains, prosecutors said.

The shooting was one of several attacks on transgender women this year that community activists worried could be part of an uptick in violent crime targeting gays and transgenders in the District. Police do not believe this shooting was related to any of the other attacks.

Willard, who turned himself into police the following day, was initially charged with assault with intent to kill, according to court documents. Under the aggravated assault charge he faces a five-year minimum prison sentence and up to 10 years.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 6.

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