February 2025 Trial Date Set For Man Accused of Killing Eliza Fletcher

Image Credit: Tennessee Department of Corrections & Canva

The Tennessee Conservative Staff –

A trial date has been set for the man accused of the kidnapping and murder of Memphis school teacher Eliza Fletcher.

Cleotha Abston, also known as Cleotha Henderson, will be in court on February 10, 2025 to answer to charges of first-degree murder, especially aggravated kidnapping, tampering with evidence, and unlawful possession of a weapon in connection to Fletcher’s death.

Fletcher was abducted while jogging near the University of Memphis on September 2, 2022. Her body was found several days later near a vacant duplex after an extensive search.

Abston was originally set to be tried by the end of 2024, but that changed when he was assigned two new attorneys who said they needed additional time to review the evidence in the case.

This case is not Abston’s first encounter with the law.

In May 2024, he was sentenced to 80 years in prison for the 2021 rape and kidnapping of Alicia Franklin. He was found guilty of aggravated rape, aggravated kidnapping, and possession of a weapon in the commission of a felony in April 2024. Significant delays in processing Franklin’s sexual assault kit had prevented his arrest on those charges before Fletcher’s abduction and murder. A motion for a new trial has since been filed in the Franklin case.

Judge Lee Coffee, who presided over Abston’s sentencing in the Franklin case, sentenced him to consecutive terms of 40 years for the rape, 20 years for the kidnapping, and 20 years for the gun charge, for a totally of 80 years in prison. The judge cited Abston’s extensive criminal history and multiple disciplinary incidents in custody, including indecent exposures and possession of drugs and weapons, as reasons for the severe sentence.

In addition to the charges related to Fletcher and Franklin, Abston is also facing other charges. He is charged with identity theft and being a convicted felon in possession of a handgun in separate cases. His criminal history also includes a prior conviction for kidnapping a well-known Memphis attorney in 2000 when he was 16, for which he served 20 years in prison.

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