First-degree murder charges reinstated for alleged killer of trans woman

Abdullah El-Amin (photo: Philadelphia Police Department).

Last week, Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Lillian H. Ransom agreed to the reinstatement of first-degree murder charges for Abdullah El-Amin, who allegedly shot to death trans woman Mia Green.

The incident happened last year in West Philadelphia. El-Amin allegedly shot Green multiple times inside his Jeep Wrangler. Police allowed El-Amin to continue driving Green to Penn-Presbyterian hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 28, 2020.

El-Amin, 38, was charged with first-degree murder and related offenses, incuding lying to authorities and tampering with evidence. But last month, Municipal Court Judge Karen Y. Simmons downgraded the murder charge to third-degree murder. She also set bail for El-Amin, which previously hadn’t been an option for him.

District Attorney Larry Krasner protested the downgrading of charges. In an press release last month, Krasner stated: “While the matter remains an active and open investigation, facts and evidence known to the Commonwealth at this time support our initial decision to charge this case as first-degree murder. My office will continue to seek justice on the Commonwealth’s behalf for the murder of Mia Green, who should be alive and with her loved ones today.”

Krasner added: “[The DA’s office] will also continue to advocate for the dignity and respect of all people, especially in the face of grotesque efforts to lock anti-trans discrimination into our laws and regulations. Allowing any marginalized group to come under attack makes all of us less safe. We must continue the work of building communities in which all people are free from oppression and violence.”

The DA’s office refiled the first-degree murder charge on April 12. But it wasn’t until May 19 that the upgraded charge was formally accepted by Ransom. The judge also revoked bail for El-Amin.

A spokesperson for Simmons, who downgraded the first-degree murder charge on April 7, said the judge would have no comment for this story.

El-Amin, 38, remains incarcerated at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Northeast Philadelphia. He has a lengthy rap sheet, according to court records.

His attorney, Shaka Johnson, had no comment for this story.

Deja Lynn Alvarez, a local trans advocate, praised Krasner for pursuing the first-degree murder charge. “I applaud Larry for refiling the first-degree murder charge and the judge for accepting it,” Alvarez told PGN. “It’s time that there are consequences for judges and their actions or lack thereof. Those charges should have never been downgraded. Maybe we can get justice for the victim and her family.”

Multiple sources told Alvarez that Green, 29, wasn’t a stranger to El-Amin. “That’s important to know because so often we hear the trans-panic defense,” Alvarez continued. “That’s clearly not what happened in this case.”

Alvarez holds out hope that justice will be done. “I am confident in the way the District Attorney’s Office is handling this case,” she concluded. “I’m definitely a little skeptical about [the criminal-justice system]. But we have to remain optimistic that positive change continues to happen. I’m hoping that justice will be served for Mia Green and her family.”

Celena Morrison, executive director of the city’s Office of LGBT Affairs, expressed similar sentiments. “Sadly, this heinous crime is demonstrative of the violence perpetrated against trans women that permeates our society,” Morrison said, in a statement. “The disturbing trends of violence against trans women in Philadelphia and elsewhere are unacceptable, and we must all condemn these atrocious acts when they happen. While it is reassuring that charges have been filed against the suspect in this case, we know that members of the LGBTQ+ community — and trans folks in particular — are shaken by this and other recent incidents. We encourage any community members in need of assistance to reach out to the Office of LGBT Affairs for support.” 

Chris Bartlett, executive director of the William Way LGBT Community Center, said: “In the face of so many murders of trans women over the past years, we’re glad that DA Krasner is pursuing first degree murder charges against Abdullah El-Amin.  Mia Green — and our communities — deserve justice for such a heinous crime.”

On May 21, the DA’s office issued this statement: “We are looking forward to the opportunity in court to seek accountability for the murder of Mia Green.”

Police spokesperson Officer Tanya Little expressed sympathy for Green’s death. “While we are saddened by the tragic and senseless murder of Mia Green, we were able to provide a measure of justice to her family and loved ones with the timely arrest of Abdullah El-Amin and his forthcoming prosecution,” Little told PGN.

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Tim Cwiek has been writing for PGN since the 1970s. He holds a bachelor's degree in history from West Chester State University. In 2013, he received a Sigma Delta Chi Investigative Reporting Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for his reporting on the Nizah Morris case. Cwiek was the first reporter for an LGBT media outlet to win an award from that national organization. He's also received awards from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, the National Newspaper Association, and the Keystone Press.