Services Take Place for Slain Trans Woman

Suspect Arraigned in the Death of Kelly Stough

Jason A. Michael
By | 2018-12-19T13:02:02-04:00 December 19th, 2018|Michigan, News|

Kelly Stough, known to some as Keanna Mattel, was laid to rest in fine style Saturday with a funeral at the James H. Cole Home for Funerals in Detroit with a memorial service later in the evening at the Affirmations LGBTQ community center in Ferndale. Stough was murdered Dec. 7 in the Palmer Park neighborhood and was remembered fondly by friends and family. That, her mother said, is the way it should be.
“She would be tickled pink to know that everything was so grand,” said attendee Jessica Williams. “She lived her life as such. I was just pleased with everything, I didn’t realize she touched so many lives and knew so many people. It was awesome.”
Jey’nce Poindexter Mizrahi, transgender victim advocate for Equality Michigan and member of the mother board of the Trans Sisters of Color Project – Detroit, attended both services.
“Her funeral was one of the most respectful and honorable funerals,” Mizrahi said. “There was not one thing disrespectful, one thing dishonorable. Her mother, Miss Jessica Williams, is a beautiful, strong, loving woman. And she made sure that her daughter was acknowledged properly and that she was sent away with the best regards.”
However, it doesn’t always happen that way for transgender women who are victims of hate crimes. According to a variety of sources, 36-year-old Stough’s murder was either the 24th, 25th or 26th of the trans woman to be murdered in the United States in 2018. However, in each of these statistics, overwhelmingly the victims have been women of color.
On Monday, Dec. 10, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office charged Albert Weathers of Sterling Heights with shooting Stough. Weathers, 46, was identified in some reports as a preacher. He first told police he shot someone who was attempting to rob him, but authorities believe the story was fabricated and that it was Stough’s gender identity that made her a victim.
Weathers was arraigned on charges of open murder and possession of a firearm. A probable cause conference has been scheduled for Dec. 20 and a preliminary exam for Dec. 27. Judge Michael Wagner of the 36th District Court set Weathers’ bond at $1 million.
The Prosecutor’s office assigned the case to Special Prosecutor Jaimie Powell Horowitz of the Fair Michigan Justice Project, which is a collaboration between the Prosecutor’s Office and Fair Michigan Foundation that assists Michigan law enforcement officers and prosecutors in solving serious crimes against LGBTQ people.
“This case reflects the excessive brutality that members of Detroit’s transgender community constantly face,” said Fair Michigan President Dana Nessel, who is also Michigan’s attorney general-elect. “We thank the Detroit Police Department for their efforts to investigate the facts of this tragic crime.”
Mizrahi said she is still processing the loss of her friend.
“Her murder was very personal to me,” she said. “She isn’t just a name or a statistic. This was my niece. This was someone who I watched grow up and come out into the LGBTQ community, go through her transition, perform, do the balls and still hold onto God and her family values.”
Williams said she is bothered by the disregard society seems to have for transgender women of color.
“They are people,” she said. “I don’t understand the fear and the stereotyping. Not just of trans women but gays, lesbians, bisexuals. I don’t understand the hatred. Why not talk to somebody? Have a dialogue. They eat and breathe, have a family that loves them. They contribute to their community. I don’t understand why there is so much hatred or the perception that they are trash … that people don’t care what happens to them. This is not true.”
Stough was special, her mother said, and that’s how she should be remembered.
“If you took the time to just talk with her you’d know that there’s nothing wrong with her,” Williams said. “I’m very proud of the attitude that she had, through all the teasing, bullying, she never got bitter. She was still happy. She had some down moments, but she was still happy and still confident. The fact that she decided to live her life as she chose made me very proud.”
A benefit was held at the Woodward Bar to help raise funds for Stough’s funeral. A GoFundMe page was also created by Stough’s cousin and her mother said all arrangements have been paid for and thanks the community for their support.

About the Author:

Jason A. Michael
Jason A. Michael earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Wayne State University before joining Between The Lines as a contributing writer in 1999. Jason has received both the Spirit of Detroit Award (presented by the Detroit City Council) and the Media Award from the Community Pride Banquet & Awards Ceremony for his writing and activism. Jason is also an Essence magazine bestselling author having written the authorized biography "Strength Of A Woman: The Phyllis Hyman Story," which he released on his own JAM Books imprint.