MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — Attorneys for the man charged with kidnapping and killing jogger Eliza Fletcher are asking the court to move the trial out of Memphis.
In a motion filed Tuesday, attorney Juni Ganguli says his client, Cleotha Abston, deserves to have the trial moved to Davidson County, in part because of extensive pre-trial local media coverage of his involvement in the Fletcher case and a separate rape case.
“The publicity has been overwhelming,” the attorney wrote in support of the motion. “Review of the Facebook pages and comments online on other social media outlets makes it clear that the public’s reaction to Mr. Abston is toxic.”
That, he argued, could mean an unfair trial if jurors are chosen from Shelby County.
Abston is charged with first-degree murder, especially aggravated kidnapping, unlawful possession of a weapon and tampering with evidence in the Eliza Fletcher case. He is being held on $2 million bond.
Fletcher, a kindergarten teacher at a Memphis private school, was abducted during an early morning run on Central Avenue on Sept. 2, 2022. Her disappearance sparked a manhunt that ended when her body was found days later, a few miles from where she was abducted.
Security footage showed her being forced into an SUV by a man. Police say that man is Abston, who has pleaded not guilty.
The judge has said the trial will happen sometime before the end of 2024. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.