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Could the latest Memphis murders have been prevented? A Nashville lawyer explains.

Memphis Shootings
Posted at 2:07 PM, Sep 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-08 19:44:53-04

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WTVF)  — People are scared. This is after two suspects are accused of taking lives at random in Memphis.

Now NewsChannel 5 learned both men were locked up, but released early.

For many, it comes down to this: if the suspects had been held for their full sentences — they wouldn't be out to commit these alleged crimes.

Cleotha Henderson is charged with murdering Eliza Fletcher, abducting the 34-year-old mother during her morning run in Memphis last Friday.

After Henderson's arrest, Tennessee's Lt. Gov. Randy McNally tweeted how Henderson should have still been behind bars.

"If he had, Eliza Fletcher would be alive today," McNally said.

Henderson had been serving a 24-year sentence for kidnapping but was released in 2020 after only 19 years.

David Raybin is a constitutional attorney and says Henderson — under the law — earned credits for early release.

"There was no parole for him. They gave him up to 15% off his sentence for good behavior," said Raybin.

Then there's Ezekiel Kelly, who police said went on a shooting rampage Wednesday in Memphis killing four.

Kelly had been sentenced to three years for aggravated assault last year, but served only 11 months. He was released this past March again for good behavior.

Public frustration over such cases led Tennessee lawmakers to pass a "Truth in Sentencing" law, where violent criminals must now serve 100% of their sentence.

But will that make a difference?

"That ignores the possibility if they had served a bit longer they would have killed someone else in the future," said Raybin.

So, it's a given if Henderson and Kelly were still locked up, they wouldn't have been able to commit the alleged crimes.

But Raybin says most all inmates serve their time and get out.

And more needs to be done to rehabilitate and supervise them when they do.

Cleotha Henderson was 16 when he was sentenced to 24 years in prison.

Raybin says when he got out two decades later — with no rehabilitation — there were a thousand red flags and he was a crime waiting to happen.