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San Bernardino man is focus in transgender reality star's killing

Dantjier Powell is sought in the beating death of 31-year-old Domonique Newburn in her Fontana apartment.

August 23, 2013|By Joseph Serna

As the hunt for the killer of a transgender YouTube reality star entered its fourth day on Friday, detectives sharpened their focus on an 18-year-old man from San Bernardino.

Fontana detectives say Dantjier Powell beat 31-year-old Domonique Newburn to death in her Fontana apartment Tuesday afternoon after a struggle. Authorities told local media they believe Powell was involved in a relationship with Newburn, who in 2010 legally changed her name from Daymond Watford.

Now the search is on for Powell, who police said may be traveling out of state with Jamie Nicole Cotton, 25, of Highland. Cotton is not considered a suspect in Newburn's killing, authorities said. The families of Newburn, Powell and Cotton could not be reached for comment.

Authorities served search warrants on two homes in San Bernardino on Thursday in connection to the killing. They seized evidence and detained several people, but no arrests have been made.

Newburn's slaying shocked neighbors and the LGBT community alike.

"He was just a regular guy," Newburn's friend, Tony Brown, told TV reporters outside her apartment during a Tuesday night vigil. "He was a really good guy and whoever did this I hope you really get caught … no one should die for being who they are."

Newburn aspired to make it in Hollywood. A month after changing her name from Daymond to Domonique, she appeared in "Hollywood Houseboys," a YouTube reality series focusing on a group of young, black gay men trying to make it big in Los Angeles.

Newburn went by the last name "Beckham" on the show and said she wanted to be a singer with a top hit on iTunes. At the time of the show, Newburn said her family didn't know she had begun to take on her female identity. The show lasted four episodes.

The show's producer, Ryan Hope, released a statement to the media on Newburn's death.

"We are all deeply shocked and saddened by the tragic loss of our sister, Domonique Newburn. Domonique was an amazing person whose spirit transcended gender. ... Our thoughts, prayers and condolences are with her family."

Newburn was found lying on the floor near one of her apartment's windows. Police said it may have been a failed attempt to escape. Her car was found 13 miles and two cities away in a park in San Bernardino. Authorities said it appeared the vehicle had been there for some time.

"It's not fair. I have friends or sisters that don't have to worry about the things I have to worry about," said Isabel Ramirez, a member of the transgender community who was at the Newburn vigil Tuesday night.

Of the slaying, she told reporters: "In so many ways, it's just scary."

joseph.serna@latimes.com

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