MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A lawsuit claiming Eliza Fletcher's murder never would have happened had the city of Memphis properly investigated a previous rape case has been dismissed by a Shelby County Circuit Court judge, according to attorney Gary Smith.
Smith represents Alicia Franklin, an alleged victim of Cleotha Henderson, the man also accused of kidnapping and killing Eliza Fletcher in September.
According to Smith, Judge Mary Wagner of the Shelby County Circuit Court dismissed the lawsuit Wednesday, and he and co-counsel Jeffrey Rosenblum are currently in the process of analyzing the decision and figuring out whether they are going to appeal or ask the judge to re-consider.
Rosenblum said he's encouraged, as the judge disagreed with some of the City of Memphis' key points in their request for dismissal, namely the city's claim that they are not obligated to investigate crimes.
"The fight isn't over," Rosenblum said. "While we don't agree with the ruling, the fact [Judge Mary Wagner] was thorough in considering our arguments makes me feel like there's a way forward with our case."
22-year-old Franklin alleged Henderson attacked her almost a year before Eliza Fletcher went missing.
"I never in a million years thought something like that would happen to me," Franklin told ABC News in September. "They had more than enough evidence that night when they interviewed me to get him off the streets, but they didn't."
The results from her sexual assault kit - linking Henderson to her case - were not entered into a national database until a few days after fletcher's body was found.
In the 25-page court filing, the city admits to some of the facts of franklin's case, including that she did report being raped on September 21, 2021. But the city denies that Franklin ever told them her attacker also went by the name 'Cleo,' or positively identified him. The city also objected to her claim that it should have gotten info about her attacker from a dating app.
"Had the sexual assault kit come back earlier, had there been sufficient proof, had Ms. Franklin been able to positively identify Abston from the photo lineup, had he been arrested earlier; no one knows what would have happened," Tannera Gibson, the attorney representing the city, said.
Franklin's attorney claimed she suffered emotional damages and the city should pay.