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Transgender San Francisco Sex Worker Claims Self-Defense in Killing

San Francisco Crissy Field Golden Gate Bridge Dusk
Image: Shutterstock

Leniyah Butler allegedly confessed to killing the man who refused to pay after she revealed her gender identity – prosecutors say she just didn't want to walk home in the cold.

A 20-year-old transgender sex worker allegedly confessed to killing a man, dumping his body at San Francisco’s Chrissy Field, and stealing his car after he demanded his money back and refused to give her a ride home when she revealed her gender identity.

Leniyah Butler, 20, was arrested and charged with one count of second-degree murder in the death of Hamza Walupupu, 32, on the morning of November 12, according to charging documents reported by Mission Local and local CW affiliate KRON-TV. Butler has pleaded not guilty to the charges despite allegedly confessing in a videotaped interview with investigators.

Prosecutors allege that Butler was working the streets in an unidentified area of San Francisco on November 12 when Walupupu drove up to her in a 2014 Hyundai Accent. Butler allegedly approached the vehicle where she agreed to perform “everything” for Walupupu in exchange for money.

Rather than performing the sex act nearby, Butler alleged told investigators that Walupupu insisted on driving across town to Chrissy Field East, a large grassy field next to San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. Chrissy Field is located on the Presidio National Park Site of the National Park Service, giving the FBI jurisdiction in the case. Butler and Walulpupu arrived sometime after 5 a.m. when the gates were opened, and Butler reportedly confessed to performing oral sex on the victim. Following completion of the act, Walupupu allegedly expressed a desire for other acts of sex, at which point Butler allegedly revealed her gender identity.

The revelation reportedly angered Walupupu, who claimed he had no idea Butler was transgender. He reportedly demanded his money back and that Butler walk home. Butler allegedly told investigators that she refused.

“She believed she had earned the money, explaining, ‘there’s no money back…I was never giving [the money] back to him,’” prosecutors alleged.

Prosecutors said Butler felt the request was disrespectful and refused to return his money or get out of the car. When Walupupu allegedly started to exit the car, Butler allegedly confessed to pulling out a gun and shooting Walupupu once in the head, killing him.

She allegedly told investigators she saw “hella different angles and ways on how I’m gonna do it” in the moments before pulling the trigger.”

After pushing Walupupu’s body from the car and leaving him bleeding on the pavement, Butler reportedly drove to a location in the Hunter’s Point section of San Francisco. She allegedly dumped the car after wiping down the surfaces for fingerprints with the help of her mother who picked her up at the location and provided a towel to aid in cleaning the car.

Butler was arrested on November 20 in a noisy raid that included the use of flash grenades by the FBI, as reported by Mission Local. She reported confessed to authorities following her arrest, but has since pleaded not guilty to the murder.

Since her arrest, the attorney for Butler filed a complaint in federal court against the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department for housing her in a men’s detention facility rather than a facility aligned with her gender identity, according to SF Public Safety News.

“I thought that was be­cause of her gen­der – she’s trans­gen­der – and they have a trans­gen­der unit at San Fran­cisco jail. But she’s cur­rently be­ing held at an all-male unit and I don’t think that’s ap­pro­pri­ate at all," her attorney David Rizk told U.S. Magistrate Judge Alex Tse earlier this month.

Tse directed the U.S. Marshall Service to respond to the Butler’s housing situation.

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