15-year-old boys may be tried as adults for murder of Memphis pastor, but family is divided over proposal

The late Rev. Autura Eason-Williams of Capleville United Methodist Church in Tennessee.
The late Rev. Autura Eason-Williams of Capleville United Methodist Church in Tennessee. | YouTube/Eason-Williams Answering the Call

Two 15-year-old boys charged in connection with the daylight murder of the Rev. Autura Eason-Williams, who led Capleville United Methodist Church in Tennessee, will learn whether they will be tried as adults later this month as the pastor’s family members remain divided over the idea.

The teenagers, Miguel Andrade and Brayan Carrillo, were charged with first-degree murder and other crimes, including carjacking, following the July 18 murder of Eason-Williams in the driveway of her Whitehaven home.

Another suspect, 20-year-old, Eduard G. Rodriguez Tabora, was also charged with first-degree murder, especially aggravated robbery, facilitation of first-degree murder, and employment of firearm with intent to commit a felony, Fox 13 reported.

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Police say Eason-Williams, 52, was fatally shot in her driveway during the carjacking just after 4 p.m. on July 18. Friends say she was on her mobile phone with a colleague when she was attacked. Her life was celebrated in a memorial service on Aug. 3 where her widower, Derrell Eason-Williams, remembered her as the “perfect wife for me.”

On Monday, a local judge was set to decide whether the teenage suspects should be tried as adults in the late pastor’s murder but the hearing was postponed until Oct. 24, News Channel 3 reported.

The hearing was previously delayed to allow the teenagers to undergo psychiatric evaluation. The judge also requested a review of their history, including school records.

As the court reviews the case, the pastor’s oldest child, Ayanna Hampton, has argued against prosecuting the teenagers as adults, saying her mother, who was a child advocate, would have opposed it.

“I feel like it’s wrong to use her death to advocate for something that she would absolutely disagree with,” Hampton said at a press conference in July. “My mother was a visionary leader; I do not want us to miss the opportunity to envision the improvements we can make to our juvenile justice system so that we are not convinced that we have to send children to adult prison for them to suffer the proper consequences that will fit their crime.”

Hampton said it would be better if the minor suspects remained in the juvenile system with supportive services provided to them.

“If you can’t try them the way you are supposed to in juvenile court that means you need to fix your court. That means that you need to improve your system,” she said. “So justice for me is not just about these kids, it’s about every single child.”

The late pastor’s husband, who told News Channel 3 that he is now “living a nightmare” due to the murder of his wife, disagrees.

“We do not want these three individuals back on the streets,” he told the news channel, speaking for several of his sisters-in-law and other family members. “They shouldn’t have been on the street anyway.

“I don’t care nothing what the kids said. All of that is null and void. I’m her husband and what matters to me is that they are prosecuted to the fullest,” he added.

While Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich agrees with the pastor’s children that juveniles should be supported, she explained that the teenagers have already been in the juvenile system and that intervention was not enough to keep them from further criminal involvement.

“I absolutely agree with the children who spoke … and we do need more community involvement and intervention in the lives of our youth, and that is the best way to honor the legacy of Rev. Autura Eason-Williams,” she said. “However, the young men accused of killing Rev. Eason-Williams have been in the juvenile system before and are a danger and threat to the safety of our citizens and I will pursue trying them in adult court. Like in most families, there are differences of opinions. This is one of those cases. I must weigh all of their wishes but most important is the safety of our community and citizens.”

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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