Memphis Shooting Suspect: I Can't Afford a Lawyer

Ezekiel Kelly makes first court appearance, is granted a public defender
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 9, 2022 11:09 AM CDT
Memphis Shooting Suspect: I Can't Afford a Lawyer
Mourners pray in the parking lot of an AutoZone, which was one of several crime scenes left in the wake of a shooting spree in Memphis, Tenn.   (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian via AP)

A Tennessee man accused of killing four people and wounding three others in a livestreamed shooting rampage that paralyzed Memphis and led to a city-wide manhunt was granted a public defender during a Friday morning court appearance and will remain jailed on a first-degree murder charge. Ezekiel Kelly, 19, told a judge he could not afford a lawyer for accusations in Wednesday’s attack that caused panic and fear across the city, per the AP. Additional charges are expected. District Attorney Steve Mulroy said outside court that bond is not warranted due to the violent nature of the alleged crimes.

The hours-long rampage had police warning residents to shelter in place, locking down a baseball stadium and university campuses, and suspending public bus services as frightened residents wondered where the man might strike next. Kelly was arrested late Wednesday after crashing a stolen car while fleeing police. The violence unfolded just a few months after Kelly was released early from a three-year prison sentence for a pair of shootings in 2020. Authorities have offered no explanation of a possible motive. Nor did they say how Kelly managed to obtain the gun or guns used in the attacks.

In February 2020, Kelly, then 17, was charged as an adult with attempted first-degree murder and other crimes in two shootings committed a few hours apart. Both victims survived but did not cooperate with prosecutors, according to court records, and Kelly pleaded guilty to reduced charges of aggravated assault in April 2021. Kelly was sentenced to three years in prison, but was released in March after serving just over two years. Months before his release, Kelly was denied parole in September 2021. He told the Tennessee Board of Parole that he had an “anger management problem,” according to a recording of his parole hearing, and that he was taking medication to help with nightmares.

(More Memphis stories.)

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