Cleotha Henderson: Suspect in Eliza Fletcher murder pleads not guilty
The man charged with kidnapping and killing Memphis teacher and mother Eliza Fletcher has pleaded not guilty.
Cleotha Abston-Henderson, who has been charged with first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, and tampering with evidence, entered the plea on Friday morning.
Ms Fletcher was out for a morning run in early September when she disappeared. Her last known sighting involved her being pulled into a car near the University of Memphis.
Mr Henderson was arrested on 4 September, two days after Ms Fletcher disappeared. Her body was located the following day behind an abandoned house.
Ms Fletcher's cause of death was a gunshot wound to her head.
The Shelby County District Attorney's Office entered a notice it intended to seek enhanced punishment for Mr Henderson. This will allow the prosecutors to seek a life in prison or death penalty sentence against the defendant.
After Mr Henderson was arrested investigators identified him using DNA to the rape of another woman in 2021.
Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy told reporters that Ms Fletcher had never met her attacker.
Mr Fletcher was out on parole at the time of the attack.
"In this particular case clearly, he shouldn't have been on the street. Our office opposed parole at the time and in hindsight the parole decision was a tragic one," he told reporters.
He said that repeat violent offenders "need to be dealt with very strongly," according to the Daily Mail.
Mr Fletcher was detained 16 times between 1995 and May 2000 on rape, aggravated assault, and unlawful possession of a weapon charges.