Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner held a press conference Wednesday to announce the issuance of an arrest warrant in the murder of Mar’Quis ‘MJ’ Jackson, a transgender activist and Black trans man. Joining Krasner were activists, family members, and victims to bring greater awareness of violence against the transgender community.
Krasner announced Charles Mitchell, 40, will be charged with the murder of Jackson which occurred on December 14, 2023. Jackson, who had turned 33 only two days earlier, was found in the backyard of a home in the Nicetown neighborhood suffering from blunt force trauma to his face. He had been missing since his birthday and authorities said Jackson was alive in the yard for up to 12 hours after suffering the fatal blow before he died and may have been in the yard the entire time he was missing.
Jackson was the second trans person to be murdered in Philadelphia in less than a month. Shahere “Diamond” Jackson-McDonald, 27, was found shot to death in her mother’s apartment three weeks earlier on Thanksgiving Day, November 24. Her crime remains unsolved, and Krasner asked for the public’s help in furthering the investigation.
Both victims were remembered fondly at the press conference, and authorities promised justice for their killers. Krasner also warned that bigoted criminals are not welcome in the city.
“You want to be a bigot, you want to be a hater – don’t try it in Philly because we are not having it,” Krasner said at the press conference.
Ada Joanne Pescatore, chief of homicide at the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, said she had no explanation for why Mitchell allegedly killed Jackson.
“The motive? He beat him. I don’t know why. I can’t tell you why,” she said. “And he let him go out to the yard, and he left him there to die. He was out in that yard for probably 12 hours.”
Kendall Stephens, a victim of violence against the community, also spoke out at the press conference. Stephens was attacked by a mob in front of her children. It was her first day as a student at Temple University, but refused to back down and described how said she returned to her classes the next day.
“We deserve better than what we have gotten,” Stephens said. “We are human beings. We are not unworthy minorities.”
In addition to the murder charge, Krasner said Mitchell will also be charged with abusing a corpse and tampering with evidence. Authorities also warned Mitchell should be considered armed and dangerous. Anyone with information on either of the two murders should call call the tip line at (215) 686-8477.