Victim of Michigan House candidate's criminal past comes forward

- Tuesday I revealed the criminal history of a candidate for the Michigan House of Representatives.

Tenisha Yancey is a former Wayne County prosecutor who is running in a special election to replace disgraced former State Rep. Brian Banks in Michigan's 1st House District.

When I interviewed Tenisha Yancey, she dismissed most of the charges against her as a combination of ancient history and phony baloney. Now, for the first time, her victim is speaking.

M.L. Elrick asked the candidate about the claim Yancey fired a gun in a woman's home.

"That's a lie, yes," Yancey said in a previous FOX 2 report. "I did not strike her car at all. That was just the finding of the court."

Then asked if the judge back then had gotten it wrong, she agreed.

"He got it wrong based on the fact that I didn't strike her car," Yancey said. "Absolutely."

I tried for two weeks to track her victim down before my investigation into the candidates aired on Tuesday.  Latasha Steele didn't return my messages - until she saw my story.

"When I saw the FOX 2 interview that she did, I was livid," Steele said. "I was so upset that I felt the need to speak up. I would have felt better had she said, 'I was young, I made a mistake, I turned my life around, let's move forward.'

"But the fact that she wants to turn around and say none of this happened and she wants to slander me and my family, I have a huge problem with that."

So I met with Steele Thursday afternoon - and I did some more digging.

Here is her version of what happened during a protracted dispute between the then-teenagers during the mid-1990s:

The first matter resulted in Yancey being charged with aggravated stalking, shooting at a building, and using a firearm while committing a felony.

Yancey admitted to have a beef with Steele, but says she never fired any shots. She ultimately pleaded guilty to misdemeanor stalking.

Steele explained things differently.

"I saw her pull up, I saw her with my own eyes, me," she said. "I saw her. She didn't ever park. You know how you come inside on the street. She stayed in the middle of the street in the car and fired from the car and just took off."

Steele said she didn't see anybody else in the car.

"Not that I saw," she said.

Elrick: "So you didn't actually see her hand with the gun, but you saw her in the car clearly enough to identify her and then you saw shots come from the car."

"Yeah, I heard the shots," Steele said.

Steele also has a vastly different account of an incident that resulted in felony malicious destruction of property and assault with a dangerous weapon charges against Yancey.

"I and my cousin were inside the car and we were at a stop sign and at first she was riding on the side of us trying to get us to come out of the car," Steele said. "That's when we came to the stop sign and she hit us so hard from the back, she pushed us out into traffic."

I contacted Steele's cousin, Tanesha Allen, who confirmed Steele's account of the incident. Yancey insists it didn't happen. She went to trial and was found guilty of misdemeanor leaving the scene of an accident and ordered to pay restitution to Steele.

Yancey says the trouble started because she and Steele were dating the same young man.

"The guy had another girlfriend who begun stalking me," Yancey said. "In my mind it was an on-going teenage fight."

Yancey says Steele made the first move, confronting her while she worked at Imperial Sports.

"She says there was a love triangle," Steele said. "That's not the way it played out."

Elrick: "So you never went to Imperial Sports to see her?"

"Never," Steele said. "All a lie, it's all a lie."

I spoke to a few people who knew both women back then including the young man they supposedly fought over. They say the feud did start over the young man.

He told me he remembers Steele confronting Yancey at Imperial Sports, but says there was no fight. And he says he stopped dating both young women shortly after.

Steele and Yancey haven't spoken in years and they've learned that past has a way of intruding on the present.

"At a time that I was just going through a lot of grief, a lot of turmoil from within," Yancey said. "And making very poor decisions. But I sit here 20 years later as an adult, who makes sound decisions and who tries to prevent other people from making those decisions based on my experiences."

Elrick: "She says that was then, this is now. I'm all grown up, and I'm an example of what happens when you put those bad decisions behind you and start making good decisions. Are you persuaded by any of that?"

"No, not at all," Steele said. "Because she still hasn't owned up to the fact of what she did. She needs to be an adult. She needs to own up to the fact of the things that she did to me, that way she can move on with her life."

Elrick: "She hasn't fully atoned?"

"Exactly," Steele said.

Steele hopes to set the record straight and hopes the best candidate wins.

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