July 26, 2021
A Philadelphia man was sentenced to 25 to 50 years in state prison for the 2019 killing of Michelle "Tameka" Washington, a transgender woman who family and friends said was a passionate advocate for the LGBTQ+ community.
Troy Bailey, 30, was found guilty of third-degree murder and firearm offenses during a bench trial in early May. According to the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, investigators linked bullets used in the fatal shooting of Washington on May 20, 2019, to live rounds found in Bailey's home while executing a search warrant.
Washington, 40, was shot four times on the 3400 block of North 11th Street in the Franklinville neighborhood of North Philly. She died at Temple University Hospital. The district attorney's office did not prosecute the case as a hate crime, according to Assistant District Attorney Chesley Lightsey.
"We do not believe that Ms. Washington was killed because she was a transgender woman," Lightsey said during a news conference Monday at the William Way LGBT Community Center on Spruce Street.
"Certain cases may not be hate crimes, (but) there's definitely hate against trans women," added Kelly Burkhardt, an LGTBQ+ liaison for the district attorney's office. "The average life expectancy of a trans woman, especially a trans woman of color, is 35 years old."
At least 31 transgender or gender non-conforming people have been violently killed in 2021 in the United States, according to the Human Rights Campaign. In 2020 the agency reported 44 killings, some of which involved "clear anti-transgender bias."
"In others, the victim's transgender status may have put them at risk in other ways, such as forcing them into unemployment, poverty, homelessness and/or survival sex work," the agency's website says.
Washington's sister, Crystal Davis, said she thought Bailey's conviction would bring her a sense of relief. That changed, she said, when she saw how the defendant acted during his sentencing hearing on July 22.
"He wasn't remorseful at all, and I think that just brought all of the hurt and pain back for me," she said. "He didn't care who he killed that night. He didn't care about how it affected us, my family (and) the LGBTQ+ community. He just didn't care, and for that I don't think I'll ever be able to forgive him."
Davis said Washington was her "rock" and that her sister "loved" being an advocate for the LGTBQ+ community.
"My pain is every day. Every day I can't call her and talk to her, I'm hurting on the inside," she said.
In a statement after Washingtion was killed, Amber Hikes with Philadelphia's Office of LGBT Affairs called her a "brilliant and outgoing member" of the city's trangender community who was "known for her advocacy and mentorship."
"Her life was just cut way too short," Davis said Monday. "She had so much more work here to do."
The same week Bailey was sentenced for murdering Washington, a preliminary hearing was held in the trial of Akhenaton Jones, 37, who is charged with murdering Dominique "Rem'mie" Fells, a 27-year-old transgender woman. Fells' dismembered body was pulled from the Schuylkill River near Bartram's Garden Dock & Community Boathouse on June 8, 2020.
On Monday, Lightsey said investigators have DNA evidence suggesting that Fells was killed in Jones' home.
"We have no evidence or reason to believe that this was motivated solely by the fact that Ms. Fells was a transgender woman," she added.
Washington and Fells are two of at least six transgender women killed in Philadelphia since 2015. Other victims include: Mia Green (2020), Shantee Tucker (2018), London Chanel and Keisha Jenkins (2015).
"It seems as if it is hunting season for trans women. It seems as though there is something against the very lives and breath of trans women just living their lives," said Rev. Andrea Arrington, a transgender woman who is an associate minister at Whosoever Ministries. "... If we show more love, we get more love, and obviously it will be shown across the world with less violence."