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Protesters outraged following release of man charged with killing transgender woman in Bel Air

Advocates protest release of man charged with killing transgender woman in Bel Air
Advocates protest release of man charged with killing transgender woman in Bel Air 02:28

BALTIMORE -- People protested outside a Harford County courthouse Monday against a judge's decision to release a man charged with killing a woman in Bel Air two weeks ago. 

The victim, Meghan Riley Lewis, is transgender and demonstrators are calling for the suspect to be locked up and face hate crime charges. 

Baltimore Safe Haven, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group, organized the rally to ensure Lewis' murder doesn't just become another statistic, but a catalyst for change.

Related: Woman killed in Bel Air shooting was a 'loving' advocate for LGBTQ+ community, friends say

"We are tired. We're scared. We are worried. This is unfair. That woman did not deserve to die," said demonstrator Koryne Davis.

Lewis was shot and killed in the parking lot of her apartment complex in the English Country Manor neighborhood  in Bel Air on December 27 by a man delivering food who misgendered her and called her "sir," according to charging documents. That led to an argument. 


"Harford County is sending a message to LGBTQ folks at the end of the day that they are not giving out justice to transgender people," said Iya Dammons, with Maryland Safe Haven. 

Activists are outraged that a judge placed the suspect, 47-year-old Brian Delen, on GPS home monitoring.

"This individual took a life,"  said Renee Lau, with Maryland Safe Haven. "He took the life of someone who cared and someone who would treat him the same way that she would treat her own children. This needs to be investigated further. It is unconscionable that a person with a second-degree murder charge should be at liberty, and Meghan can't speak for herself."

Delen's public defender said he had a "strong self-defense argument." 

Delen allegedly called 911 after Lewis was shot and rendered aid using his own first aid kit, according to the public defender.

Lewis was unarmed. 

WJZ obtained a statement from the Harford County state's attorney. It noted prosecutors requested Delen be held without bail. 

As for any possible hate crime charge, prosecutors said they are "working diligently with the Bel Air Police Department and the investigators assigned to this case, who are conducting a thorough investigation examine all evidence, and determine what additional charges are appropriate. The loss of any life in our community is devastating…"

You can see the full statement here.      

The protesters promised to keep fighting for Lewis, remembering her as a mother figure and fierce advocate for her community who often ended conversations reminding her friends to "stay sparkly."

The non-profit Human Rights Campaign said Lewis was at least the 21st transgender woman lost to fatal violence in 2023.

"We are losing a mother in this community. She helped everyone that she could. This woman impacted our community in so many ways. She impacted more people than we can count," said her friend Lia Scher. "She fought for our safety, and this is the least we can do is fight for her."

Friends of Lewis told WJZ they were shocked by the killing of someone they knew to be loving and compassionate.

"I was totally horrified," Zosia Zaks said. "I couldn't even believe it at first."

Zaks said Lewis always put other people first. She founded a patient support group for trans individuals coming to Baltimore for life-saving surgery, and she opened her door to anyone who needed support, according to her friends.

The next hearing in this case is January 25. 

If convicted, Delen could face up to 85 years in prison.   

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