A Tennessee teen has pleaded guilty in the slaying of a prominent United Methodist Church leader

Feb 1, 2024, 1:53 PM

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A 16-year-old boy pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of second-degree murder and carjacking in the death of a prominent United Methodist Church leader in Tennessee.

After he entered the plea in a Memphis court, Miguel Andrade was sentenced to prison terms of 20 years for the second-degree murder charge and another eight years for the carjacking, the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office said. Both sentences are without the possibility of parole.

Andrade was 15 when he and Eduard Rodriguez-Tabora were indicted in February 2023 on charges of first-degree murder and especially aggravated robbery in the July 18, 2022, death of the Rev. Autura Eason-Williams. Andrade pleaded guilty to lesser charges as part of the plea agreement.

Rodriguez-Tabora, 22, remains charged under the indictment. He has pleaded not guilty.

Eason-Williams was found in the driveway of her home with gunshot wounds. She died at a hospital. Video footage showed that the pastor was ordered out of her car and then shot before her car was taken, police said.

The daytime shooting shook United Methodist Church members in Memphis and elsewhere. Eason-Williams was superintendent of the Metro District of the Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference of the church. She also was the pastor of Capleville United Methodist Church and a graduate of Memphis Theological Seminary.

Andrade had been transferred from juvenile court to adult court. In its request to have Andrade charged as an adult, the district attorney’s office said it considered his age, prior criminal history and actions during the alleged crime.

Another teen who was charged with being involved in the carjacking has pleaded guilty in juvenile court.

In a statement, the office of District Attorney Steve Mulroy said it met with the pastor’s family and there were “split opinions within the family regarding the prospect of a trial.”

“As a result, we determined that a suitable resolution was to meet in the middle with a sentence of 28 years,” the statement said.

Eason-Williams led youth camps, retreats and women’s events, and she preached for local, district and conference church events.

She also served on several boards and on planning committees that created My Sister’s Keeper, an outreach that addresses health disparities of African American women, and the Congregational Health Network, a network of 600 churches that address health disparities and build relationships between hospitals, the faith community and neighborhoods, according to a biography posted on Eason-Williams’ website.

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