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Some United Methodist Clergy say trying teen suspects as adults for church leader's murder is 'insult' to her legacy

The clergy who spoke Tuesday said they wrote to Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich about the issue.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Some Mid-South United Methodist Church clergy gathered Tuesday to discuss whether the teens charged with killing Rev. Dr. Autura Eason-Williams should be tried as adults.

15-year-old Miguel Andrade, 15-year-old Brayan Carrillo, and 21-year-old Eduard Rodriguez Tabora are charged in the murder of Dr. Eason-Williams. The Shelby County District Attorney's Office said it will seek to have the two teens tried as adults. The two are due back in court Sept. 12, 2022.

RELATED: Shelby County D.A. will pursue trying juvenile murder suspects as adults despite plea from some Rev. Autura Eason-Williams' family members

Dr. Eason-Williams’ family is divided on the issue, with some saying the teens should not be tried as adults – but her husband saying they should.

RELATED: Husband of Memphis church leader wants teens charged in murder tried as adults

The clergy who spoke Tuesday said they wrote to Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich, saying that trying the 15-year-olds as adults would be an insult to Eason-Williams’ legacy.

“We believe that God's justice is restorative justice. Punishment alone is not justice. To try children as adults is to perpetuate further community harm and violence,” they said.

The clergy also urged citizens to make their voices heard in the election Thursday by voting.

In response, Weirich issued the following statement: “I absolutely agree that we do need more community involvement and intervention in the lives of our youth, however, the young men accused of killing Rev. Eason Williams have been in the juvenile system before and are a danger and threat to the safety of our citizens. For that reason I must pursue trying them in adult court.”

The D.A.'s office said the 40 juveniles transferred to be tried as adults in 2021 are charged with violent crimes which include murder, aggravated assault, rape, carjacking, and aggravated robbery.

RELATED: Hearing delayed for teens charged with murder of Memphis church leader; adult suspect's hearing continued

Dr. Eason-Williams, District Superintendent of the UMC's Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference's Metro District, was shot and killed July 18, 2022, in the driveway of her home on Whitehaven Lane, during a carjacking.

Andrade and Carrillo are due back in court Sept. 12, 2022. Tabora is due back in court for a report date on Aug. 15, 2022.

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