Albert Weathers pleaded guilty to murdering Kelly Stough. (Mugshot: Detroit Police Department via AP; image of Stough via her Facebook page under the Keanna Mattel name)
A former pastor has pleaded guilty to murdering a transgender woman, who police found dead on a Detroit, Michigan, street.
The defendant, Albert Weathers, 50, told cops that he shot and killed Kelly Stough, 36, by accident when he pulled out his gun in self-defense, according interview footage reported by The Detroit News. He maintained that the victim tried to rob him after he dropped his daughter off at school. Highland Park police Sgt. Heather Holcomb testified to seeing a sharp object in Stough’s right hand after the shooting.
Other testimony suggested a far messier story and cast a sinister light on Weathers, a former pastor of the Logos Church in Detroit. Kyra Butts, a trans woman who did sex work, said that Weathers was a customer.
“He was one of the guys that I hooked up with,” she said, according to the outlet. “He would drive around a lot before he would pick someone up.”
He frequented the area of Palmer Park for her services and the services of other sex workers, many of whom were also trans, she testified.
She stopped going on “dates” with him because he would give her the “run around” when it came to how much he would pay her, Butts reportedly said.
“His attitude was aggressive and kind of intimidating,” she testified.
A Detroit police officer found Stough, also known as Keanna Mattel, shot to death on Dec. 7, 2018. Authorities charged Weathers with open murder and use of a firearm in commission of a felony just three days later on Dec. 10, 2018.
It took more than four years, however, to reach a conclusion in court. Weathers pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and felony firearm on Thursday.
In exchange, he will spend eight years in prison for the murder charge and two years for the gun charge.
“The mother of the victim acknowledged that she agreed and was grateful for the resolution in the case,” prosecutors wrote.
The court scheduled formal sentencing for Sept. 8.
“The transgender community is among the most marginalized communities in this country,” Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said. “The Wayne County Prosecutors Office is committed to that not being the case in Wayne County. Today, yet another step was taken to protect our trans community members. Defendant Albert Weathers pled guilty this morning to the murder of Kelly Stough. She will not be forgotten. She mattered. We will continue to aggressively prosecute those who bring harm to this and other Wayne County communities.”
“This guilty plea hopefully brings a long-awaited sense of closure to the family and friends of Kelly Stough,” Fair Michigan Justice Project President Alanna Maguire said. “Further, it demonstrates a firm commitment to justice from the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and our team at the Fair Michigan Justice Project.”
Loved ones remembered Kelly as friendly and outgoing, with aspirations of becoming a designer, according to The Detroit News.
Her mother, Jessica Williams Stough, told the outlet she was amazement at her daughter’s resilience in facing hostility from strangers and others.
“She never became bitter,” the mother said. “‘You’re not going to make me feel any less than who I am.’ I respected her so much for that.”
“Her laugh and her smile could brighten up a room,” Kecha Jackson, a longtime friend, said. “She was a loving, caring person.”
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]