MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The inmate accused of stabbing another inmate to death while in custody at the Shelby County Courthouse went before a judge Monday.
Before Donnie Clay was brought into Judge Sheila Bruce-Renfro’s courtroom, you could hear him coming as he was heavily shackled with hands cuffed behind his back while flanked by nearly half a dozen law enforcement officers.
“He’s not going to be painted to be no animal like that,” said Clay’s sister Khaneja Young.
The 21-year-old, who was already arrested on other charges, is facing a new charge for first-degree murder after allegedly using a makeshift knife to stab fellow inmate Deion Byrd in a holding area outside the courtroom last week.
According to the police affidavit, Byrd accused Clay of breaking into his home before spitting in Clay’s face. Police said that’s when Clay stabbed Byrd in the neck.
Byrd was taken to Regional One Hospital, where he later died.
Clay’s sisters Khaneja and Latoria Young were in court Monday and insisted there’s more to the story and added two families have been wronged.
“They were neglecting those inmates. I hate that for her because if it wasn’t her son, it was going to be my brother, and that’s not right, period. And 201 needs to take the fall for that,” Khaneja said.
“The look on his face when the judge told him he could possibly get the death penalty – he does not deserve that,” Latoria said.
The judge reminds Clay that he is facing serious charges that could result in serious time in lockup if found guilty. It’s for that reason that his three older sisters are doing what they can to ensure he has the best defense.
Clay has been ordered back to court next week. He is being held without bond.
We reached out to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office again Monday to better understand how a knife made it into the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center. They released the following statement:
“Shelby County Jail resident Donnie Clay has been charged with First Degree Murder and Possession of Contraband in a Penal Facility in connection with the death of resident Deion Byrd on October 26 at the Criminal Justice Complex. He is due back in court next week. Mr. Clay is accused of stabbing Mr. Byrd in the holding area behind a criminal courtroom.
The Sheriff’s Office is reviewing this tragic event and would like to extend our thoughts and prayers to the family of Mr. Byrd. The Bureau of Professional Standards and Integrity is focusing on internal failures that led to this unfortunate incident, while the command staff is reviewing changes, improvements, and training that we hope will prevent such an occurrence in the future.“