A grand jury in Prince George’s County indicted a District Heights man for the murder of Tavahn “Taya” Ashton, a 20-year-old Black transgender woman, county officials announced Tuesday.
Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy said DeAllen Davonta Price, 27, will be charged with murder and other offenses.
If convicted, Price faces life in prison for shooting Ashton in her Suitland apartment on July 17.
“Our homicide unit within the [police] department … was able to really solve this homicide pretty quickly and that’s why we were able to indict him pretty quickly,” Braveboy said Tuesday outside the Prince George’s courthouse in Upper Marlboro.
According to court documents, Price traveled July 18 to Arlington County, Virginia, and police arrested him that same day. It took police about two hours to arrest Price because he hid inside a tunnel at the Pentagon City Metrorail station.
When Price walked outside, police noticed a Gucci cross-strap bag with “distinct markings.” When the information was relayed to Prince George’s police, Ashton’s family informed authorities a similar bag was missing from her apartment.
Police retrieved cellphone records and determined the last phone made by Ashton was to Price. In addition, police said Price didn’t leave the area of Brooks Drive, where Ashton lived, between 11:41 p.m. and 1:10 a.m. on July 17.
Police found Ashton dead hours earlier at about 9:52 p.m.
On July 20, law enforcement authorities found a .40-caliber handgun in the same Metrorail tunnel where Price hid two days prior in Northern Virginia. After examining the gun and bullets, Prince George’s police determined it was the weapon used to kill Ashton.
When questioned by police, Price said he and Ashton had a three-month relationship.
As police continue to investigate the motive of the shooting, Price remains in a Virginia jail. Prince George’s police said there’s no timetable for when he would be extradited across the border to Maryland.
Karen Holmes, a Black transgender woman and transgender advocate, said 39 Black transgender people have been killed this year nationwide. In comparison, 44 were killed last year.
“We’re going to be past that number later this year,” she said.
Holmes said she’s working with the federal Department of Justice’s Community Relation Services to bridge the transgender community with law enforcement.
“We want to do training with law enforcement officers to identify things such as proper pronouns when they pull us over,” she said. “That helps to ensure a person is identified correctly.”
Iya Dammons, executive director of Baltimore Safe Haven, has a message for Prince George’s and other local and state officials to help Black trans women survive. Dammons mentioned two shot and killed in the county two years ago: Zoe Spears, 23, and Ashanti Carmon, 27.
“We are out here every day fighting for our lives. Where are the resources for people who look like me?” she said. “Everybody will come out for me when I’m dead and throw me my roses, but what happens when I’m alive? Do what it takes to [help] me survive … and the generation that comes behind me.”