Colleague of murdered Memphis pastor reflects on her legacy

Published: Jul. 25, 2022 at 7:58 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Monday morning, we received new information from Memphis Police that a second teenager was charged in the carjacking and shooting death of Memphis pastor Rev. Autura Eason-Williams, which took place last week in Whitehaven.

15-year-old Brayan Corillo has been charged with first-degree murder, first-degree murder in perpetration of robbery — especially aggravated robbery, possession of a firearm during a dangerous felony, and carjacking.

We spoke with a long-time colleague of Eason Williams, Dr. Mark Matheny, who is the President of the Board for the United Methodist Neighborhood Centers of Memphis.

He was crushed when he heard the news of his friend’s death on Monday, July 18.

Just four days before, the two had met to discuss reducing gun violence in Memphis, of all things.

“Our home happens to be just about a mile from the Med hospital,” Matheny said, recalling the night of July 18. “And so, I rushed down there and found a prayer circle of close clergywomen friends of hers and her children. They were praying there, and they were just told that the doctors had not been able to save her.”

We learned in juvenile court, during Corillo’s probable cause hearing, that Corillo wasn’t the shooter.

He was the driver of the Hyundai Veloster, which was stolen, that followed Eason-Williams to her home in Whitehaven.

Two armed, masked teenagers got out of the car, shooting and carjacking Eason-Williams.

Corillo remained in the car, following the two in Eason-Williams’s stolen Infiniti Q50.

The teenagers would abandon the Hyundai, which Corillo left his phone inside.

The phone was later found by police.

Matheny said if she was still alive, Eason-Williams would have sympathy for these kids.

“The other night at a prayer vigil that we had, a person got up and testified and said ‘I know that she carried youth in her heart throughout her life and would have even compassion for this misguided person who pulled the trigger,’” Matheny said.

Corillo’s defense attorney Josh Corman said because his client wasn’t the shooter he should not be detained.

Judge Carlyn Addison, however, said she found probable cause to have him detained, sighting that Corillo has a prior offense that’s awaiting court action in Shelby County Juvenile Court.

He is now detained until his next court date.

The prosecution is now seeking to try Corillo as an adult.

“One of the people said, ‘you know, I bet if she had a chance, she would have said just take my car and I’ll be praying for you,’” Matheny said.

Corillo’s next court date is currently set for Aug. 1 at 9 a.m.

The group Eason-Williams was a part of with Matheny is known as Soul Force, whose mission is “someday, all will live in peace.”

“...and she carried that vision forward,” Matheny said. “A real inspiration and of course that’s what we take even from this tragedy is to be inspired to do far, far more than we’re doing.”

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