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Greenville teen charged in killing, robbery of transgender woman inside her home

Family members display sweatshirt honoring Marquiisha Lawrence

Family member Jackie Irby looks on as Debora Martin, mother of Marquiisha Lawrence, displays a sweatshirt honoring the transgender Greenville woman who was shot to death insider her home Nov. 5. Pictured outside the Greenville County Detention Center on November 23, 2021, following a bond hearing for a man charged with murder.

GREENVILLE — A Sans Souci teenager is charged with murder in the robbery and shooting of a transgender woman inside her home — a case that has raised heightened awareness among LGBTQ advocates who say violence against them is increasing.

Decorey Dashawn Massey, 17, remains in jail after a Greenville County magistrate judge ordered him held in custody after a Nov. 23 hearing during which several people wearing sweatshirts bearing 28-year-old Marquiisha Lawrence's face looked on.

The hearing came the day after a Greenville County Sheriff's Office fugitive team arrested Massey in Spartanburg in connection with the Nov. 5 killing.

Lawrence, described by family members as a gentle soul fond of cooking, was shot inside her home on Loop Street in the New Washington Heights neighborhood. Lawrence, who is primarily identified by the Sheriff's Office as Demarcus Martin, was shot multiple times, Lt. Ryan Flood said.

"During the course of the investigation, investigators learned that the victim was shot in her bedroom multiple times before Massey stole her vehicle, which has since been recovered," Flood said.

An arrest warrant also charging Massey with grand larceny states that video evidence implicates him as being in possession of Lawrence's 1996 Mercury Grand Marquis and that other items belonging to Lawrence were in his possession.

Following the shooting, LGBTQ advocacy groups decried the crime and said it was an example of increasing violence against people who are transgender, nonbinary or gender-nonconforming.

The South Carolina chapter of Moms Demand Action issued a news release counting Lawrence's death as the 45th so far in the U.S. of people like her, a record since tracking began in 2017.

“With her whole life ahead of her, Marquiisha was just starting to make her mark on the world,” said Jackie Shelley, a volunteer leader with the chapter. “As we’ve tragically seen far too often, hate paired with easy access to guns is deadly, especially for the transgender community. We must continue fighting the worsening epidemic of hate-fueled gun violence.”

But family members who attended Massey's bond hearing told The Post and Courier afterward that they didn't believe Lawrence's transgender identity had anything to do with the shooting.

Lawrence's mother, Debora Martin, said that Lawrence was "a hard worker, very smart. He was just one of a kind. You couldn't hate him for nothing."

Family member Jackie Irby, who like Martin was wearing a sweatshirt bearing Lawrence's face, said Lawrence "didn't have a bad bone in his body" and had a deep passion for cooking.

“Every morning, he was on Facebook Live cooking breakfast," Irby said. "Every night, he was on Facebook Live cooking dinner. We knew in the mornings we were gonna see him live, cooking breakfast and cooking dinner. He was just that person. Thanksgiving is going to be very hard this year.”

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Follow Eric on Twitter at @cericconnor.

Reporter/Local Editor

Eric is a reporter and local editor for The Post and Courier in Greenville. Previously with The Greenville News, he's covered the Upstate for two decades and served as a USA TODAY correspondent. He studied journalism at the University of South Carolina.

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