A man charged in the fatal shooting death of a transgender woman in Detroit late last year told police that he fired his weapon while trying to defend himself from an armed robbery, according to video footage of his interview with officers.
The footage was played during a district court hearing on March 11, according to The Detroit News.
Albert Weathers was charged with open murder and use of a firearm in commission of a felony for allegedly killing Kelly Stough, a transgender woman who who also was known as Keanna Mattel. Weathers, who is listed as having served as a pastor at New St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church from 1997-1999, has been held on $1 million bond.
Weathers told police after the December 7 shooting, which was ruled a homicide, that he had just dropped his daughter off at an unnamed location and stopped at a gas station when he said he saw Stough and “rolled the window down thinking they were in distress or needed assistance.”
Next, he said Stough unlocked the door, entered the vehicle with a sharp object, and threatened to slash his tires. Weathers claimed he had his gun in his right hand and his cell phone in his left hand as he tried to call 911.
“Then that person was coming at me ... Then we got to struggling, and that’s when I shot,” he explained. “That person fell to the ground.”
The story took a significant turn from there, as Weathers did not immediately call police. He waited for an hour after the incident before he called 911, and he told the dispatcher that he wanted “to report an (undecipherable) … robbery.” Only after that did he say he “may have hit the individual.”
Highland Park police Sergeant Heather Holcomb said during testimony on March 11 that she found a woman lying face down with a “spent casing” near her. Police told Gay City News that the shooting occurred at the corner of East McNichols and Brush Streets, which is in the northwest area of Detroit.
It is not clear whether Weathers knew Stough prior to the shooting. Sex workers testified in late February that Weathers was frequently seeking “dates” in the Six Mile and Woodward area of Detroit — just a few miles from the area of the shooting — and another transgender woman, Kyra Butts, said that Weathers sought out the services of other sex workers who were usually transgender woman.
“He was one of the guys that I hooked up with,” Butts said, according to The Detroit News. “He would drive around a lot before he would pick someone up.”
Butts described Weathers’ attitude as “aggressive and kind of intimidating.”
The March 11 hearing ended abruptly due to time constraints, but court records indicate that the examination of Weathers will continue on March 29. One more witness is slated to testify, according to The Detroit News.
Special prosecutor Jaimie Powell Horwitz, who works with the Fair Michigan Justice Project (FMJP), is handling the case. The FMJP is a product of a partnership between the prosecutor’s office and the Fair Michigan Foundation, which is geared towards working with police officers and prosecutors on cases involving LGBTQ people.
The 36-year-old Stough was was known for her involvement in the local ball scene. She also became an outspoken advocate for transgender rights, telling The Guardian in 2015 that police officers “are unaware of our struggle so they have no sympathy for us. Nobody ever asks, what happened to that person to get here?”
Michigan’s out gay state attorney general, Dana Nessel, who previously served as the president of Fair Michigan prior to her election victory in November, said prior to taking office that the case reflected “the excessive brutality that members of Detroit’s transgender community constantly face.”
Nessel could not immediately be reached about the latest developments in the case.