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'It's just unbelievable' | Midtown car theft victim frustrated with suspects' early release

The Midtown victim reacts to the eight armed teenage suspects being released from Shelby County juvenile custody just days after the crime.
Credit: abc24

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Eight Memphis teenagers busted for car theft and gun possession in Midtown just three days ago have been released from custody.

The teens are innocent until proven guilty, but owners of at least one of the stolen cars are questioning the quick release.

"We had gotten it on Thursday, and it got stolen on Sunday," car theft victim Rebecca Phillips said.

Three days after buying a 2017 Hyundai, Phillips and her husband woke up Monday morning to find their only means of transportation gone.

"Probably about 8:30ish, my husband came out and said 'Bec, did you move the car?' And I thought he was playing a joke cause it was gone," Phillips said.

According to Memphis police, they were the first victims of eight armed teenage suspects who attempted to steal a second Hyundai on Madison Avenue. 

MPD said the teens crashed the stolen cars into each other, then tried to get away from officers.

"How are you not aware or conscious of other people's properties or things? Like, they're being reckless to other people on the road, like that's so dangerous, and then to have a gun in their possession that's stolen?" Phillips said.

Three 13-year-olds, two 15-year-olds, a 16 and 17-year-old were taken into juvenile custody and now face charges for auto theft and evading arrest.

The 16-year-old and 18-year-old, David Stockard are accused of gun theft and unlawful possession. Stockard is being charged as an adult. 

"Essentially, it was a bunch of kids. It was just really frustrating. Who has this kind of time on their hands? And why do they want to do that during their time?" Phillips said.

To Phillips' surprise, a Shelby County Juvenile Court spokesperson confirmed all of the teens were released just days after the incident. 

Thursday afternoon - on WDIA - Shelby County Juvenile Court Judge Tarik Sugarmon explained every juvenile charged must have a detention hearing within 72-hours after their arrest to determine whether they're kept in the juvenile detention center or released.

"This is a probable cause hearing, which is the minimum standard of proof. And in that, if the officer's not there and the deficiency of the affidavit, the children are released," Sugarmon said in an interview with WDIA.

18-year-old Stockard was released on his own recognizance without bond in Shelby court.

The fact all of the charged teenagers are again on the streets left Phillips stunned and angry.

"It's just unbelievable. I always hope and wish the system would change, but I don't know what that would look like," Phillips said. "So, that's frustrating because you know they're going to do it again, and they are doing it again."

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