A North Philadelphia man will serve 20 to 40 years in prison in the 2019 death of Michelle “Tameka” Washington, a transgender woman and LGBTQ advocate.
Troy Bailey, 30, was convicted of third-degree murder following a bench trial in May. Washington, 40, of North Philadelphia, was fatally shot near the 3400 block of North 11th Street on May 20, 2019. Bailey was arrested and charged with murder days after authorities said he and his girlfriend showed up to the crime scene, then provided conflicting statements to homicide investigators.
The death of Washington, described as “an auntie to the community,” left the city’s LGBTQ advocates stunned and concerned amid a nationwide spate of attacks against Black transgender women. Representatives from the District Attorney’s Office discussed the sentencing Monday at the William Way LGBT Community Center alongside LGBTQ advocates and Crystal Davis, Washington’s sister.
Davis said she thought she’d feel relieved after the sentencing. But the pain she experiences is “every day.”
“Every day I can’t call her and talk to her. She was my rock,” Davis said. “She was full of life.”
Transgender people, specifically Black transgender women, face disproportionate rates of murder, according to the Human Rights Campaign, which aims to bring awareness to violence against LGBTQ people. The group tracked 44 killings last year — in some cases, they said, there was “clear anti-trans bias” and 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 Rev. Andrea Harrington, a transgender woman and pastor at Whosoever Metropolitan Community Church of Philadelphia, said “it seems as though there is something against the very lives and breadth of trans women just living their lives, getting up in the morning having to overcome obstacles just to get out of bed.”
Prosecutors said they don’t believe Washington was killed because she was transgender. Still, “there is definitely hate against trans women,” said Kelly Burkhardt, the District Attorney’s Office’s LGBTQ+ liaison.
“This is one of those moments right here which is very empowering, even though unfortunately, justice will never be served truly,” Burkhardt said. “This doesn’t just affect the life of the person who is gone, the family who is here. It affects everyone. It affects our community.”
The office is also prosecuting Akhenaton T. Jones, 37, of West Philadelphia, who was arrested in February in Los Angeles and charged with killing Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, a 27-year-old transgender woman who died in June 2020 of multiple stab wounds.
Jones is scheduled to be arraigned next month on murder and related charges.
Chesley Lightsey, homicide chief in the District Attorney’s Office, said authorities have DNA evidence showing Fells was killed at Jones’ home. His attorney didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Members of Fells’ family were present at Monday’s news conference, including her mother, Terri Edmonds, of York, Pa. They were flanked by a handful of LGBTQ advocates including Chris Bartlett, William Way’s executive director.
Standing in a ballroom upstairs at the community center near 13th and Spruce Streets, Bartlett said Fells had been there before: She’d once walked in a fashion show in the same room.
“If you’ve ever seen a picture of her in that joyous moment celebrating her life,” he said, “you’d join me in even greater grief for her loss.”