‘They took my best friend’: Husband of murdered pastor speaks out

“I want you all to know - they took my best friend away from me, and I can never get her back.”
Published: Jul. 27, 2022 at 10:48 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 28, 2022 at 6:13 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The husband of a murdered Memphis pastor wants the juveniles charged with her killing to do adult time for the crime.

The pastor’s children, however, do not want the teenage suspects to wind up at 201 Poplar.

The killing and its repercussions — the focus on juvenile justice and the shortcomings in the system that deals with young offenders — have the community talking.

The one thing everyone agrees on: there are not enough successful intervention and rehabilitation programs in Shelby County.

The hope is that Pastor Autura Eason-Williams’ death is not in vain and that it leads to improvements in the local juvenile justice system.

But until then, the question is: what should happen to the young men arrested for her murder?

”I want you all to know - they took my best friend away from me, and I can never get her back,” Darrell Eason-Williams said while holding back tears, “and if they get out, they’ll have the rest of their lives with a free record. My wife can’t get her life back.”

Darrell Eason-Williams is a heartbroken husband who said justice will only be served when the two teenagers charged with murdering his wife are tried as adults.

“You didn’t just take her car, you shot her numerous times, pulled her out, and left her for dead. That ain’t no regular crime,” he said.

Memphis Police said 15-year-old Miguel Andrade and 15-year-old Brayan Carillo carjacked and killed 52-year-old Eason-Williams, pastor of Capleville Methodist Church, in her Whitehaven driveway July 18.

Unlike their stepfather, the Pastor’s four children do not want the suspects transferred out of juvenile court. Their mother’s ministry, they said, focused on finding ways to help kids escape the cradle to prison pipeline.

Daughter Ayanna Hampton and her siblings spoke with the media on Wednesday, which also happened to be Hampton’s 31st birthday.

”My mother was a visionary, “said Hampton, “If I were to say ‘throw those children under the jail, charge them as adults, give them the death penalty, send them to jail forever, I would not have learned anything from my mother in 31 years. I have to believe in God’s absolute ability to redeem any person. That’s not my job.”

Juvenile court records show both teens had prior convictions.

Andrade, the suspected triggerman, was on probation for another carjacking committed when he was just 14, and he was wearing an ankle monitor when the pastor was killed. Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich requested the move to adult court for Andrade and Carillo.

”Both of these juveniles had been in the system before, and we’re not talking about a low-level offense this time. We’re talking about murder in the first degree. If they stay in the juvenile court system, then at the age of 19, they are cut loose from the system. They are cut loose from any supervision that the court or any program might have over them. They are scot-free.”

Darrell Eason-Williams said his wife’s sisters feel as he does, that violent, young offenders who commit rape or murder should stay locked up.

“My wife would not want these boys free out here on the streets,” he said, “I know that my wife would push for them to be transferred to prison. Now, she would want them to get help in prison, but she would not want these boys to be out there on the streets to harm anybody else.”

Memphis Police confirmed a third suspect, 20-year-old Eduard Tabora, has also been charged with first-degree murder in the case.

It will be up to the juvenile court judge to decide if the 15-year-olds should be transferred to adult court.

The first hearing is scheduled for Aug. 1.

A decision likely won’t come for at least 30 days because it’s standard procedure for suspects’ attorneys to request a psychiatric evaluation.

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