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Memphis teacher's abduction, death, quickly turn political

Memphis abduction, murder suspect Cleotha Abston.
Memphis abduction, murder suspect Cleotha Abston.

(Mike Osborne) — The abduction and murder of a Memphis school teacher quickly turned political this week.

The body of missing jogger Eliza Fletcher was discovered Monday. Authorities have charged Memphis resident Cleotha Abston with kidnaping and murder in connection with her disappearance last Friday.

Within hours of word that Fletcher's remains had been found, Tennessee Republican Senate Speaker Randy McNally weighed in on the case. The Associated Press quotes McNally saying Fletcher’s death “proves that the recently passed Truth in Sentencing Act was necessary.”

Approved by Tennessee’s GOP controlled legislature earlier this year, the controversial law requires felons to serve 100 percent of their sentences. If Abston had served his full sentence for a previous kidnapping conviction, he would still be behind bars.

Democratic Metro Memphis District Attorney Steve Mulroy will prosecute the case against Abston. Mulroy opposed the Truth in Sentencing Bill, arguing it would not reduce crime, but would drive up the state’s prison budget.

Mulroy said Tuesday that the discovery of Fletcher’s remains is a time for grief and should not be used “as a political football.”

Republican Gov. Bill Lee also opposed the Truth in Sentencing bill as passed by his GOP colleagues. He allowed the measure to become law without his signature.