A former Navy sailor has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for the 2016 stabbing death of a transgender woman in Mississippi.
Dwanya Hickerson, 21, pleaded guilty Thursday to murder in the killing of Dee Whigham in a St. Martin hotel room on July 23. Hickerson will also have to serve 15 years for a robbery charge. He could have faced the death penalty if he had gone to trial on the original charge of capital murder.
Whigham’s mother, Vickie Blackney Whigham, blasted the plea deal, saying, “I think the plea is a slap in the face. He gets a chance to see his family and I don’t have that chance with my child.”
Hickerson and Whigham met online while Hickerson was training as a weather forecaster at Keesler Air Force Base. The two agreed to meet in Biloxi while Whigham was on vacation with a group of friends.
The two met up on the fateful night and traveled back to Whigham’s Best Western hotel room where Hickerson said they had a sexual encounter. Once Whigham revealed she was a transgendered woman, Hickerson said he “lost it.”
According to autopsy results, Whigham was stabbed 119 times, with most of the wounds being on her face. Her throat was also slashed three times.
Surveillance video captured Hickerson leaving the hotel about 32 minutes after he entered ,with his shirt around his neck. Video as captured him throwing away a large trash bag. Authorities also discovered that he showered before he left the room.
Hickerson was arrested two days after Whigham’s body was discovered after an instructor called the police who recognized Hickerson’s face.