Lawyer Requests Nashville Jury For Accused Memphis Murderer Cleotha Abston

Image Credit: Tennessee Department of Corrections &

The Tennessee Conservative Staff –

A new defense attorney for Cleotha Abston-Henderson is asking that the case be moved out of Memphis. Abston is charged with the September 2022 kidnapping and murder of Eliza Fletcher.

Attorney Juni Ganguli filed a motion on Tuesday requesting that a jury be selected from Davidson County instead of Shelby County, claiming that public interest in the story and media coverage of the case is “overwhelmingly negative as it relates to Mr. Abston.”

“The publicity has been overwhelming,” the motion reads. “Review of the Facebook pages and comments online on other social media outlets makes it clear that the public’s reaction to Mr. Abston is toxic. Mr. Abston will not receive a fair trial if jurors are drawn from Shelby County.”


This motion comes just a few weeks after the Office of the Shelby County Public Defender asked to be recused from the case for a “conflict of interest.”

Ganguli also says that the large number of individuals who participated in “Finish Liza’s Run” event, a run held in memory of the murdered schoolteacher, also influenced the decision to make the request.

“In addition to media coverage, thousands of people in Memphis have participated in an event – both in 2022 and 2023 – named ‘Finish Liza’s Run,’” Ganguli said. “That event also has generated publicity. The Daily Memphian reported that ‘[m]ore than 2,000 Memphians gathered in the early hours of Sept. 12, 2022, to run in her remembrance. In 2023, at least a thousand Memphians attended that event.”

It motion is actually filed in a separate case against Abston-Henderson for the rape of Alicia Franklin, an incident that took place a year prior to Fletcher’s kidnapping. He was indicted for that case after a rape kit matched to him shortly after he was arrested for the abduction. 

It is unclear if the motion will apply to the jury selection for both cases.

In July, the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office announced that they would be asking for the death penalty in Fletcher’s case.

“The phrase heinous, atrocious, and cruel is a term of art that is in the statute,” said Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy. “It is one of the listed statutory aggravating factors. You have to show at least one of those aggravating factors in order to get the death penalty and what it refers to is a level of violence that goes above and beyond the necessary to cause the death.”

Mulroy explained that torture is often involved in crimes that bring out that portion of the statute.

Abston-Henderson returns to court on October 12, and the trial is expected to happen sometime before the end of 2024. Abston has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *