Trial date set for murder of trans woman

Trial date set for murder of trans woman

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A trial date has been set for one of the defendants in the murder of a local transgender woman. Jose Pena, 20, will stand trial Aug. 21 for the murder of Maya Young and again one month later for a separate murder charge.

Pena and Tiffany Floyd, 25, were arrested in February for Young’s murder near 4900 Griscom Street in Frankford. Police responded to a stabbing on Feb. 20 and found Young suffering from stab wounds to the chest and neck.

The District Attorney’s Office extended plea deals to both defendants, which have not been made available to the public.

“I suspect that she will plead guilty in February,” said Assistant District Attorney Gwen Cujdik, referring to Floyd. 

Cudjik said the judge will determine Floyd's sentence should she plead guilty.

Meanwhile, Pena decided to go to trial for both murder charges.

“We made an offer for him to plead guilty to both homicides and he rejected that offer,” Cujdik said. “So he has decided to go to trial on both homicides.”

Pena's attorney, James F. Berardinelli, said he could not comment on the plea deals.

In addition to the murder of Young, Pena is also charged with the murder of Jonathan Martel, 20. Guy D'Andrea, the assistant district attorney prosecuting the case, said Pena and Angel Torres, 24, were at a house on 4700 Darrah St. where they allegedly sold drugs on April 25, 2015. Martel came to the house and engaged in a dispute over money with Torres and Pena, D'Andrea said. According to prosecutors, Torres later gave Pena a gun which Pena allegedly used to shoot Martel in the middle of the street outside the house. Officer Christine O'Brien from the Philadelphia Police Department confirmed Martel died from gunshot wounds on his neck and back almost a month later on May 23, 2015.

D’Andrea said information gathered from the Young investigation helped confirm that Pena and Torres were allegedly involved in Martel’s murder. Pena was charged with Martel’s murder on March 21.

“The arrest for the murder of Maya gave us some additional information about my murder [case], which helped give us a stronger warrant, so to speak, to arrest him on this murder,” D’Andrea said.

D’Andrea declined to go into details about the specific evidence.

Young’s stabbing allegedly stemmed from an argument over a man. Floyd’s lawyers said she believed Young used “voodoo” to “cast a spell” on her boyfriend. According to Floyd, she asked Pena for help in killing Young. Pena’s statement said both defendants met Young at a park where Floyd and Young smoked crack. He said Floyd stabbed Young and then asked Pena to “finish” her or she would have him killed.

Pena’s trial for the Young murder will be held 9 a.m. Aug. 21 in Room 607 of the Criminal Justice Center, while his trial for Martel's murder will be held at 9 a.m. Sept. 18 in Room 1007. Floyd is scheduled for a pretrial conference 9 a.m. Feb. 9 in Room 1105.

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