A former Navy sailor was sentenced to 40 years in prison on July 20 for stabbing his date 190 times after learning she was transgender.
Dwanya Hickerson, 23, stabbed Dee Whigham, 25, to death while at a Best Western Hotel in Mississippi on July 23, 2016, according to the Sun Herald,
An autopsy later revealed Hickerson stabbed the victim multiple times in the face as well as throat, the New York Post reports.
Hickerson pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. In addition to serving time for Whigham's death, Hickerson will also serve eight years in prison for robbery charge. He avoided the death penalty in his plea agreement with prosecutors.
Hickerson said the two had been talking for months online before they agreed to meet in person.
After having anal sex in the hotel, Hickerson fell into a violent rage after Whigham told him she was transgender.
"I lost it" he said. "I lost it."
Hickerson has since expressed remorse for his actions.
"I apologize to the family," he said. "I really, really wish it had turned out differently. If I could take it back, I would."
Hickerson's mother, Kimberly Markin, echoed similar sentiments calling the murder "a preventable tragedy that I’m so very sorry happened."
"My son never set out that day to murder someone," Markin said. "I am sorry any of this happened to both families."
Whigham's family is reluctant to accept their apologies.
"I know bad things happened to good people," the victim's sister, Denisha Whigham, said. "I don’t know what happened in that room because I wasn’t there and my [sibling] can’t tell me. I just wanted you to know you took away my only [sibling] and my daughter, his only niece, she was devastated."
The victim's mother, Vickie Blackney Whigham, echoed similar sentiments, adding she is unhappy with Hickerson's sentence.
"I think the plea is a slap in the face," Blackney Whigham said. "He gets a chance to see his family and I don’t have that chance with my child."
Whigham was a registered nurse who had just started her career when she was killed.
"[She] was a hard-working, kind-hearted person who was just starting his life who did not deserve this," Raquel Cooley, Whigham’s cousin and neighbor, said.
Loved ones and strangers alike mourned her death.
"We want to make sure this person is remembered for who they are," said Molly Kester, executive director of the Rainbow Center, an organization that held a vigil on Whigham's behalf in 2017. "We need to move toward love instead of hate. The community of the Gulf Coast is behind the LGBT community and we are all in this together."