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EXCLUSIVE DETAILS: MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Cleotha Henderson, the man accused of violently kidnapping and killing beloved Tennessee mother Eliza Fletcher late last week, was back in court Thursday as his attorney pushed to have the details of the case less publicized.
Henderson, 38, was not handcuffed for his Thursday morning court appearance before Judge Louis J. Montesi. Wearing similar attire to his previous appearances, he remained silent and slouched during the hearing, at times even leaning against the railing that separated him from the rest of the courtroom.
Henderson’s attorney, Jennifer Case, had asked Montesi to review her involvement in the case amid a conflict-of-interest concern.
The conflict, she said, was that her office had represented Henderson in a criminal matter in the early 2000s. But Montesi ultimately ruled that Case could proceed as Henderson’s attorney.
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Case, a public defender, also requested a gag order in the case, noting in making her argument that Memphis Police Chief C.J. Davis had called her client a “dangerous predator.” Prosecutors, however, argued the public should continue to be informed about this case.
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Montesi asked Case to submit a proposed order for the judge to take under review. Henderson was initially identified as “Cleotha Abston,” but the jurist later ordered that his name be changed in all documents to Cleotha “Henderson,” per the accused murderer’s request.
Meanwhile, Henderson’s brother, Mario Abston, appeared in court on Thursday around the same time as Cleotha.
Abston’s charges were unrelated to his brother’s alleged kidnapping and murder of Eliza Fletcher, according to authorities.
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The Memphis Police Department said earlier this week that 36-year-old Abston was charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to manufacture and sell fentanyl, possession with intent to manufacture and sell heroin and for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony.
Records show he is being held on $45,000 bond.
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Just hours after Eliza Fletcher’s violent abduction, Cleotha Henderson allegedly showed up at his brother’s home, where a woman saw him “cleaning the interior of the GMC Terrain with floor cleaner and … behaving oddly,” the affidavit states.
Mario Abston also told police he saw Henderson cleaning the inside of his car, and both witnesses saw him “washing his clothes in the sink of the house,” the document further states.
Unlike in Henderson’s case, Abston will be granted a private attorney because the public defender initially appointed to him worked in the same office as Henderson’s.
Fox News Digital captured exclusive images showing Abston during his Thursday court appearance.
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Meanwhile, an obituary released Thursday in Fletcher’s memory described her as a “strong believer in the importance of personal growth” who “was not afraid to be vulnerable.”
“A born athlete, Liza’s passion for sports extended from childhood teams to collegiate competition to excellence in marathons in adulthood,” the obituary states. “She found great joy in her morning runs with friends. She channeled her competitive nature into enthusiastic participation in all that she undertook.”
Fletcher is described as someone who “modeled the Christian life and trusted in her unwavering faith.”
“Liza was a light to all who knew her,” the obituary states. “Her contagious smile and laughter could brighten any room. Liza was pure of heart and innocent in ways that made her see the very best in everyone she met. To know her was to love her and to be loved by her.”
The page adds: “Her impact is extraordinary, as is witnessed in the prayer groups, vigils held at the homes of friends and family, church and school gatherings, and memorial runs and walks held in her honor. The outpouring of love and grief would have surprised Liza, who never thought or acted as if she were something special – though she certainly was.”
It calls her “most cherished role” as being that of a wife and a mother.
“She loved her family fiercely and unconditionally. Together as a family, they enjoyed outdoor adventures including boating, water sports, hiking, running, and biking,” the obituary goes on. “She was deeply admired by her family and friends for her passionate dedication to motherhood.”
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A funeral service is scheduled to be held on Saturday, September 10th at 10 a.m. local time, at the Second Presbyterian Church. Fletcher’s family has asked that any memorials be made in the form of contributions to the Liza Wellford Fletcher Memorial Fund at St. Mary’s Episcopal School, Christ Methodist Day School, and Second Presbyterian Church.
Fox News’ Haley Chi-Sing contributed to this report.