Teen charged in Memphis pastor’s murder had just completed youth intervention program, official says

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — FOX13 is learning more about a 15-year-old charged with killing a Memphis minister. 

Reverend Autura Eason-Williams was gunned down during a carjacking in front of her Whitehaven home Monday afternoon.

The teen suspect faces several charges in her death, including first-degree murder.

We’ve also learned this is not the first time the suspect has faced carjacking charges.

Juvenile crime records are not something we typically get to see, but Friday, juvenile court released information about the 15-year-old accused in the crime. That record is part of why District Attorney Amy Weirich said she plans to transfer the teen’s case to adult court.

Back in November, he faced a misdemeanor charge of unlawful possession of a weapon. In December, he was charged with three counts of carjacking and three counts of employment of a firearm. When a witness did not show for the case, prosecutors made a plea deal with the teen suspect.

This spring, he was required to take ceasefire gun safety, complete community service, given a no contact order and referred to evaluation and the Youth Services Bureau.

“The 15-year-old kid that actually committed that heinous crime, we came in contact with that individual at the ceasefire program that we help facilitate through juvenile court,” said Brian Tillman, Assistant Director of 901 Bloc Squad. Tillman and a team of community advocates work together to offer a way out for troubled youth in Memphis.

Tillman said the 15-year-old charged with Eason-Williams’s death recently took part in a community activity aimed at turning lives around and scaring teens away from prison cells.

“He was taken to West Tennessee State Penitentiary last Friday on a scared-straight program, and on Monday he committed this act.”

Local youth advocacy groups like 901 Bloc Squad and Knowledge Quest said it’s vital that teens have access to such programs as soon as possible.

“Sometimes we got to pump some positivity in their heart and show them a different route,” said Briant Kelly, an intern with Knowledge Quest. “A lot of these kids don’t know a different route outside these neighborhoods.”

Executive Director of Bloc Squad, Delvin Lane, told FOX13 his group has been around the past 10 years advocating for better opportunities for inner city youth. Lane explained his motivation to do the tough, yet fulfilling job, comes from his own life’s experiences. “I was one of those kids. I was in juvenile court. I did time at Shelby Training Center for aggravated assault back in the day.”

Meanwhile, the 15-year-old’s fate could soon be decided. He could now be moved out of the juvenile system and treated as an adult with the chance of facing hard time in prison.

The teen is due back in juvenile court August 1st. According to Weirich’s office, a hearing about transferring his case to adult court will likely happen late August or September.