Detroit, MI- A pastor has been accused of murdering a transgender woman who was found dead in Detroit last week.
A police officer discovered the body of 36-year-old Kelly Stough on Friday, the Detroit News reports.
The Wayne County prosecutor’s office charged Albert Weathers, 46, with the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and open murder, a designation that allows the prosecutors to decide on a degree of murder or manslaughter as more information about the case becomes available. Prosecutors said they will bring evidence that the fact that Stough was transgender was a factor in her murder. Authorities have said the woman’s gender identity played a role in her death but declined to elaborate until a court hearing.
According to a local news station, Weathers allegedly fled the scene and clocked in at his job at the Great Lakes Water Authority. Then, authorities believe, he called police an hour after the shooting to say that someone had tried to rob him and he’d shot someone.
However, after an investigation, authorities arrested Weathers, who also pastors the Logos Baptist Church in Detroit where he reportedly has been a member for 20 years.
Stough, who also went by the name Keanna Mattel, was at least the 26th trans person murdered in the United States in 2018, according to a running tally kept by the Human Rights Watch.
“I want people to know that because she was transgender doesn’t mean that she was not loved, that she was not cared for,” Jessica Chantae Stough, Kelly’s mother. “She has a family who cared about her, who loved her and I want them to know that transgender ladies — expressly those of color — they’re just not throwaways; people care about them.”
Stough was an aspiring fashion designer and well-known in Detroit’s ballroom dance scene. She was also an outspoken advocate for her community, speaking out against the violence facing trans people, and especially trans women of color. “The police are unaware with our struggle so they have no sympathy for us,” she told the Guardian in 2015 after the murder of 20-year-old trans woman Amber Monroe in Palmer Park — the same neighborhood where Stough was killed three years later.