This story has been updated with a statement from the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A judge issued subpoenas to three witnesses in the case of Ezekiel Kelly’s shooting rampage across Memphis when they failed to show up to a court hearing Tuesday.
Kelly faced a preliminary hearing Tuesday, but he was escorted out and will appear again Oct. 18, after the witnesses needed to move the case forward did not appear.
“They are material witnesses, we need them to go forward with this preliminary hearing,” said Assistant District Attorney Chris Lareau.
The judge filled Kelly in on the seriousness of the three witnesses who seemingly appear to be ignoring a court order.
“These individuals were personally served but they failed to appear here today to testify in the matter against you. I have signed instanter subpoenas to have them arrested,” Judge Karen Massey said.
Right now, Kelly is only facing one count of murder for the killing of 24-year-old Dewayne Tunstall instead of three, but more charges are expected to come as sources say numerous felony charges are pending against Kelly.
Kelly, 19, is accused of shooting six people over a matter of several hours while live streaming some on Facebook. Three people in total were killed.
The first killing happened just after midnight on September 7. It was a day of terror that put Memphis on lockdown for hours.
Kelly was taken into custody a little before 9:30 that same night after a chase from Mississippi back into Memphis.
Kelly had been released from jail on March 16 after serving 11 months of a three-year sentence for an aggravated assault plea.
We reached out to Memphis Police and the sheriff’s office to see if those witnesses have been arrested but we have not heard back from them either.
Court records related to Kelly’s arrest say, “Witnesses true identity is being withheld due to safety reasons and is available to magistrate upon request.”
We reached out to the District Attorney’s office to try to speak to someone about how often witnesses don’t show up for court and what protections there are.
The District Attorney’s office told WREG that witnesses often don’t show up for court typically because they may lack interest, fear of retaliation because they have been threatened or otherwise, or they fear they will be “labeled as a snitch”.
The DA’s office said the 901WRAP program is in place to help relocate witnesses who have been threatened. It can also be used in cases where a witness refuses to cooperate with law enforcement because they may live near the suspect or they know the suspect knows where they live.
The 901WRAP program, which started in April 2022, the DA’s office has spent around $60,000 to relocate witnesses.
— Morgan Mitchell contributed.