Arraignment held, case moves forward for Cleotha Henderson Abston

Cleotha Abston Held Without Bond.
Published: Sep. 8, 2022 at 6:00 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Thursday, Cleotha Henderson, formerly Cleotha Abston, before telling a Shelby County Judge he’d like to be referred to as “Henderson,” reappeared for his arraignment.

Henderson was scheduled to face a judge for his charges of first-degree murder and first-degree murder in perpetration of a kidnapping on Wednesday.

Police say Henderson kidnapped Memphis woman Eliza Fletcher early Friday morning during her early-morning run.

Fletcher’s body was found Monday, a roughly 8-mile driving distance away at 1666 Victor Street in South Memphis.

The Wednesday hearing on these charges was pushed back to Thursday due to a “legal issue.”

The motion that Henderson’s defense counsel filed with the public defender’s office was placed under seal on Thursday morning.

The public defender’s office represented Henderson in 2001 when he was sentenced to 24 years in prison following an aggravated kidnapping charge.

Henderson’s counsel, Jennifer Case, said she felt this could potentially be a conflict of interest.

“The actual person, the actual attorney that was involved in the prior proceeding, won’t be involved in this proceeding, and the judge is satisfied with proceeding along those lines,” said Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy. “The judge has now ruled that there is no need to reassign defense counsel and that the public defender’s office can continue to represent.”

After that issue was resolved, Case attempted to file a motion for a gag order.

The comments made by Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis about Henderson during a Tuesday morning press conference.

Davis referred to Henderson as a “dangerous predator,” and Case felt this violated state ethics laws and vilified her client prior to receiving his trial.

“We have been very scrupulous about honoring all of these ethical rules, and we will continue to do so,” Mulroy said. “The defense wanted that memorialized in a court order. We have no objection to that. The court order says, “We will do what the ethical rules require,” Which is what we were already doing and already will continue to do. We’ll counsel with law enforcement about the nature of restrictions on public comments.”

Pending a bond hearing, Henderson is being held without bond.

His report date is Monday, September 19.

From there, we will know how soon Henderson will have his Case sent to criminal court.

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