One of the teenagers charged in the murder of Memphis pastor Rev. Dr. Autura Eason-Williams was released on bond on Feb. 15. Miguel Andrade, 16, is being charged as an adult with first-degree murder and posted a bond set at $200,000.
Ayanna Hampton, Eason-Williams’ oldest child, responded to the news on Facebook, saying, “Don’t ask me how I feel about the young man who murdered my mom being out on bond. I told y’all years ago the money bail system was stupid.”
“The situation with the justice system, that’s a challenge because as much compassion as I have for these three young men involved in [Eason-Williams’] murder, I also understand that there are consequences in this life,” Rev. Larry Chitwood told Fox 13 News.
Chitwood is a pastor at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, and worked with Eason-Williams on an anti-racism initiative. The pastor said he is praying “that God would send his Holy Spirit into [Andrade’s] life to help him see and become the person he was created to be. He wasn’t created to be a murderer or a monster. He was created to be a chosen child of God, and that light still exists within him.”
Memphis Pastor Advocated for Youth
Rev. Dr. Autura Eason-Williams was a United Methodist pastor and district superintendent for the Memphis Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, as well as a wife and mother of four. She was involved in several causes as an advocate for youth. On July 18, Eason-Williams was shot and her car stolen near her home in Whitehaven. She was rushed to the hospital, but did not survive her injuries.
“That he is out on bond after what he had done is just baffling,” said Birgitte French, who was talking on the phone with Eason-Williams when the Memphis pastor was shot.
French is the senior pastor at Colonial United Methodist Church in Memphis. She told ABC24 News that she had been friends with Eason-Williams for nearly 20 years. “She was laughing,” French said of her phone conversation with Eason-Williams before the crime took place, “and she had the most infectious laughter. Her laughter turned into scream…A scream that I never heard before.”
French heard gunshots and the screaming stopped. She called 911. Later, when she met Eason-Williams’ children at the hospital, they learned the pastor had died. Even though French expressed disbelief that Andrade is out on bond, she said that Eason-Williams “would want [the perpetrators] to get the help that they need so that this would not happen again.”
Andrade is one of three suspects charged in connection with Eason-Williams’ murder. Another teenager, Brayan Carrillo, and an adult, Eduard G. Rodriguez Tabora, have also been charged with first-degree murder. Carrillo pled guilty and will remain in the custody of DCS until he turns 19. Tabora’s case will go before a grand jury.