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Detective: Alleged killer said 'voodoo spells' spurred stabbing of transgender woman

Tiffany Floyd stabbed Maya Young this year for two reasons: Both were vying for the same man, and the victim was casting "voodoo spells," a detective testified in court Tuesday.

Tiffany Floyd stabbed Maya Young this year for two reasons: Both were vying for the same man, and the victim was casting "voodoo spells," a detective testified in court Tuesday.

Philadelphia Homicide Detective James Pitts told Municipal Court Judge Teresa Carr Deni that Floyd admitted to police that she stabbed Young in the back and then gave the knife to Jose Pena, telling him: "You got to finish it. You got to kill him."

Pitts, testifying during Floyd's preliminary hearing, said Floyd told detectives that Young was casting spells on her boyfriend, following her around, and harassing her.

Assistant District Attorney Chesley Lightsey said Young - a 25-year-old transgender woman known as "Littles," who was born Norman Lindsey Jr. - died Feb. 21 of deep stab wounds in the back and chest that punctured a lung.

In a separate preliminary hearing Tuesday for Pena, also held before Deni, Pitts testified that Pena, 19, told him Floyd wanted to kill Young because "they were fighting over a guy."

After Floyd stabbed Young in the back, Pitts testified, she ordered Pena to "finish Littles. If he did not kill Littles, she said, she would kill him because he was a witness."

At the end of both hearings, Deni ordered Floyd and Pena to each stand trial on a general count of murder, conspiracy, and a weapons charge. Both remained in prison without bail.

Pena's lawyer, David M. Walker, argued unsuccessfully for Pena to be tried only on third-degree murder, maintaining that Floyd planned to kill Young and then threatened Pena's life if he did not go along.

Floyd's attorneys, Fred Goodman and Daniel Stevenson, challenged the hearing on procedural grounds. They objected to Pitts' reading a summary of Floyd's almost three-hour-long recorded statement to detectives, and asked to see the entire video.

The judge responded that at preliminary hearings, prosecutors are allowed to use a summary read by the interviewing detective.

Both Floyd and Young had been convicted previously on prostitution charges. Pena is awaiting a June 21 preliminary hearing in another homicide involving an unrelated April 25, 2015, shooting.

Pitts testified that Floyd and Pena both told him they were with Young smoking crack cocaine in a park shortly before midnight on Feb. 20. Then, while walking on Griscom Street, Floyd stabbed Young in the back.

Young began running onto Penn Street in an apparent attempt to get to nearby Aria Health-Frankford Campus, but collapsed in the 4800 block, where Pena stabbed her in the chest, Pitts testified.

Young's was at least the third slaying of a transgender person in Philadelphia in the last 13 months.

jslobodzian@phillynews.com

215-854-2985 @joeslobo

www.philly.com/crimeandpunishment

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