Teen charged in murder of transgender woman at Highland Park hotel

An 18-year-old has been arrested and charged in connection with the June 2023 murder of Ashia Davis, a transgender woman who was found shot to death in a Highland Park hotel.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced the charges against Carlos Lamar Scotland, who was 17 at the time. He's charged with first-degree murder, felony firearm, resisting and obstructing police, and carrying a concealed weapon.

"It's troubling on many levels," Worthy said when asked about the suspect's age. 

Davis was shot inside a room at a hotel on Woodward near Seven Mile on June 1, 2023. It’s a hotel where many in the transgender community sometimes stay.

Worthy said that Scotland was arrested this week, on March 12. 

Worthy and police declined to provide details about the case, including if it was a suspected hate crime. Authorities also are not saying if David and Scotland knew each other.

"She was murdered tragically and coincidentally on the first day of Pride Month," Worthy said.

The murder had a chilling effect throughout the area's LGBTQ+ community, with many pleading for anyone with information to come forward. 

"When we talk about the LGBTQ community marginalization, trans women of color, specifically, experience the most violence," said Julisa Abad after the crime. 

Abad is the director of outreach, transgender advocacy and a victim advocate for the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.

"Ahe was loving - she was kind - she fed animals - she always stopped and helped homeless people," she said.

Abad lost a best friend when Davis was murdered nine months ago.

Now prosecutors say they can prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt - they refused to discuss a possible motive - but acknowledged the dangerous stigma many trans people encounter.

"I absolutely feel there's a very big atmosphere of hate for the LGTQ," said Kam Towns, Fair Michigan Justice Project. "I feel like people are more brazen - they don't hide in the shadows as much as they used to, when they go after members of the LGBTQ community."

Even - for Ashia Davis - on the first day of Pride.

"It again goes to show the brutality that my community faces - even during a month that they're supposed to be celebrating being their authentic self."

Abad says the average life expectancy of trans women of color is 35 years old. Davis was just shy of her 35th birthday.

"We hope that will send another message to everyone that we're serious about prosecuting these cases," Worthy said.