Transgender Woman Loses Bid for Home Detention After Hammer Attack on Partner

Hamilton, New Zealand – A transgender woman named Jazz ‘Ra’ Rima-Samuels has been denied home detention after being convicted of assaulting her partner with a claw hammer. Rima-Samuels, who was known as David Rima-Samuels in court, argued that prison was not suitable due to her gender identity.

During the hearing at the Hamilton District Court, Rima-Samuels’ lawyer, Kerry Tustin, claimed that she had been a long-time victim of her partner’s violence. Tustin pleaded with the judge not to send her client to jail, citing the challenges Rima-Samuels faced in prison as a transgender individual.

Tustin argued that due to Rima-Samuels’ gender identity, she did not fit into either male or female facilities, making her time in prison especially difficult. Rima-Samuels’ lawyer emphasized the impact of her sexual orientation on her mental and emotional well-being, stating that being transgender was not a choice.

The incident occurred on the evening of October 6, when Rima-Samuels visited her partner’s property. An argument ensued, leading to Rima-Samuels striking her partner with a claw hammer multiple times, causing significant injuries. The victim managed to retreat inside the house as Rima-Samuels continued to behave aggressively.

Police were alerted to the scene after hearing Rima-Samuels’ alarming statement, "I f** killed him with a hammer." The victim was found with severe head injuries, inflicted by Rima-Samuels during the altercation. Despite acknowledging the history of domestic violence between the couple, the crown solicitor emphasized the severity of the assault.

In his ruling, Judge Noel Cocurullo condemned the violence, noting the dangerous nature of the attack. He ultimately sentenced Rima-Samuels to 19 months in prison, declining to convert the sentence to home detention. The judge underscored the seriousness of the crime, regardless of the circumstances leading to the assault.

This case sheds light on the challenges faced by transgender individuals within the criminal justice system and the complexities of ensuring their safety and well-being in prison environments. The decision not to grant home detention underscores the gravity of the offense committed by Rima-Samuels and emphasizes the importance of accountability in cases of domestic violence.

Belinda Feek is an Open Justice reporter with extensive experience covering legal matters, who has provided insightful reporting on a variety of cases over the course of her career.