Memphis man pleads not guilty in series of shootings

Posted at 3:22 PM, October 4, 2022 and last updated 3:21 PM, July 14, 2023

By ADRIAN SAINZ Associated Press

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee teenager pleaded not guilty Tuesday to more than two dozen charges connected with a shooting rampage in Memphis that led to a citywide shelter-in-place order and a frantic manhunt.

FILE – This undated photo released by the Memphis Police Department shows 19-year-old shooting suspect Ezekiel Kelly. Police in Memphis, Tenn., warned residents to shelter in place as a man they identified as Kelly drove around the city shooting at people on Sept. 7, 2022. A court hearing for Kelly, the man charged with murder in connection with the series of shootings in Memphis, was postponed Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, when three state witnesses did not show up for the proceedings. (Memphis Police Department via AP, File)

The lawyer for Ezekiel Kelly, 19, entered the plea during a brief hearing in Shelby County Criminal Court. The lawyer, public defender Jennifer Case, was appointed by a judge after Kelly said he could not afford a private attorney.

Kelly was indicted last week on 26 charges stemming from a series of shootings Sept. 7 that killed three people and wounded three others in Memphis. The indictment includes two first-degree murder charges in the deaths of Richard Clark and Allison Parker, plus other alleged offenses including attempted murder, reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon, commission of an act of terrorism and evading arrest.

Kelly already had been charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Dewayne Tunstall outside a home in east Memphis on Sept 7. That case remains in a lower court, and a preliminary hearing has been set for Oct. 18. The indictment and the single murder charge could be combined at some point, prosecutor Chris Lareau said outside court.

At least three witnesses saw Kelly shoot Tunstall at about 1 a.m., according to a police affidavit. Clark and Parker were shot later that day as Kelly was driving around Memphis, livestreaming some of his activities, including one shooting inside a business, police said.

The shootings led to the shutdown of Memphis’ public bus system, the lockdown of two college campuses and the stoppage of a minor-league baseball game.

Kelly carjacked at least two vehicles and he was arrested after crashing a stolen car while fleeing police, authorities said.

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