Shelby County DA to seek death penalty for Memphis shooting spree suspect Ezekiel Kelly

Ezekiel Kelly, who is accused of randomly shooting people while driving around Memphis, is the murder case for which Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy announced his office’s intention to pursue the death penalty on Monday.

Mulroy has been a staunch opponent of capital punishment. The declaration marks the initial occasion he has requested the implementation of the death penalty since assuming office in August 2022.

“Then there is no instance,” stated Mulroy during a press conference on Monday morning, “regardless of whether they concur with it or not… If this instance is not deserving of a death announcement, as a lawmaker, I would oppose it. However, I believe that the individuals who elected me comprehend that a District Attorney must adhere to the legislation.” “I have been openly vocal about my personal disapproval of the capital punishment as a matter of public policy.”

Kelly, a 19-year-old, has been charged with an additional 23 counts of first-degree murder along with three counts of attempted murder in connection with the shooting spree on September 7th. Three more people were injured in the incident.

Kelly purportedly began his shooting rampage during the wee hours of the day, supposedly shooting and fatally injuring Dewayne “Sosa” Tunstall, a Memphis citizen. Subsequently, he allegedly murdered Allison Parker, a nurse residing in West Memphis, Arkansas, and Richard Clark, a 62-year-old individual who, according to authorities, was shot while seated in his vehicle outside a fuel station.

‘I believed I was next’: Witnesses remember moments in rampage shooting.

Mulroy stated that the unpredictability of the shooting was the fourth determining factor. Additionally, he claimed that the killings were carried out as part of a terrorist act, and accused Kelly of committing “mass murder” throughout the rampage. Mulroy also mentioned a past conviction for aggravated assault. According to Mulroy, these four factors influenced the decision to seek the death penalty.

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He was sentenced to three years in prison but was released on March 16, 2022. He entered a guilty plea to a lesser charge of aggravated assault, and starting in April 2021, he was sentenced to three years in prison. He was charged with attempted first-degree murder and reckless endangerment in 2020.

Mulroy stated, “This is not a difficult situation.”

“Further along in the future, as the case moves forward,” stated Mulroy, his office might contemplate one, mentioning that a plea agreement is still a possibility for Kelly.

Following the district attorney’s declaration on Monday, Just City, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reforming components of the criminal justice system that have marginalized certain groups, expressed their displeasure in a press statement.

“Expressing a desire for capital punishment entails undertaking a intricate, multi-decade endeavor to terminate another individual’s life,” the press release stated. “Just City opposes the choice made by the Shelby County District Attorney to pursue the death penalty.”

Bill Lee, the Governor of Tennessee, commissioned a report in December 2022 which found that executions performed in Tennessee were previously mishandled. The report cited these botched executions as a reason to consider other sentences and urged the District Attorney, as well as nonprofit organizations, to voice similar opinions in press releases calling for criminal justice reform in Shelby County and the City of Justice.

From John Beifuss: Memphis is exhausted, but now is not the moment for relaxation or surrender.

The press release from the Just City stated that their experimental approach often does not go according to plan, particularly when it comes to the modern implementation of the death penalty through lethal injection. According to the report, there were frequent instances of disregarding the protocols for obtaining and administering the drugs used in the execution process, which increased the likelihood of unsuccessful or flawed executions. The District Attorney should explore alternative sentences that prioritize compassion, efficiency, and the well-being of victims, their families, and public safety.

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The Memphis Police Department initiated a city-wide investigation for Kelly following a phone call from an individual expressing concern at 6:12 p.M. The caller reported that Kelly was engaging in live broadcasting on Facebook, during which he allegedly filmed himself shooting an individual within a retail establishment.

A notification from MPD was issued around 7 p.M., Advising individuals to remain inside while they searched for the suspected gunman.

Kelly stated that two cars were stolen, including multiple vehicles that had been driven. The alleged spree took place over a period of more than 20 hours, crossing state lines.

Later, authorities stated that there was a pursuit at high velocity and Kelly was apprehended in Whitehaven half an hour afterwards. He stands accused of car theft in Memphis and subsequently in Southaven shortly before 9 p.M. Additionally, Kelly is confronted with charges in Southaven for stealing a car prior to his apprehension.

Lucas Finton serves as a news reporter for The Commercial Appeal. He can be reached at Lucas.Finton@commercialappeal.Com and can be tracked on Twitter @LucasFinton.

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