Man lands in Jail for 8 Decades after Sexual Assault and Homicide of Kidnapped Jogger in Tennessee

Cleotha Abston was given 80 years in prison for a violent rape he did in 2021, one year before he was charged with the kidnapping and murder of schoolteacher Eliza Fletcher.

The woman Abston r*ped was someone he met on a social dating site in September 2021. He was found guilty of the crime on April 12.

The woman said she was r*ped in the backseat of Abston’s girlfriend’s car while being held at gunpoint and having her face covered with a T-shirt.

Judge Lee Coffee of the Shelby County Criminal Court gave the sentence: 40 years for aggravated rape, 20 years for aggravated kidnapping, and another 20 years for being a felon in charge of a weapon. All of the sentences must be served in order.

Judge Coffee stressed how cruel Abston was by calling the way he treated the victim “exceptional cruelty.”

Juni Ganguli, Abston’s lawyer, insisted that his client was innocent even though the crime was very bad and there was clear proof.

Ganguli said, “I do not believe for a second that he r*ped, kidnapped, had a gun, that he put a gun to that woman,” and then he said he was going to appeal the conviction.

One important part of this case is how long it took to handle the sexual assault kit. Abston wasn’t arrested until after he had already done something illegal.

The 2021 rape wasn’t linked to Abston until after he was charged with kidnapping and killing Eliza Fletcher in September 2022.

Fletcher, a kindergarten teacher and mother of two who is 34 years old, was taken while she was running near the University of Memphis.

A few days later, her body was found. Many people have said that the long time it took to handle forensic evidence was a major cause of Fletcher’s death.

Authorities said that Abston wasn’t arrested sooner because of the backlog in testing the sexual attack kit, which could have saved Fletcher’s life.

Investigators made a big step forward in the case when they found a pair of shoes with Abston’s DNA on them close to where Eliza Fletcher was last seen.

Later, an autopsy showed how badly hurt Fletcher really was: he had been shot in the head, his legs were badly hurt, and his jawbone was broken.

In response, the Tennessee Legislature passed a bill that requires the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to report on the status of s*x assault kit testing every three months. The goal is to avoid delays like these in the future.

A woman who was r*ped sued the city of Memphis, saying that the cops did not properly investigate her case in 2021. But the judge threw out the case, so the victim had no legal options.

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