Thursday, May 28, 2015

Man Convicted for Downloading Child Porn at Best Buy

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2015 at 11:08 AM

  • Nesler
A man was sentenced to 10 years in prison this week for downloading child pornography at an East Memphis Best Buy.

In September 2012, John Nesler, 51, used three different computer tablets on display at the Best Buy store at 5821 Poplar to pull up pornographic photographs of female minors, according to information from the office of Edward Stanton, United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee.

Nester then took pictures of the images on his cellphone.

On September 10, a Best Buy employee witnessed Nesler downloading the pictures and alerted store managers. They called the Memphis Police Department. Nester was still in the store when police arrived.

Officers arrested Nesler, seized his phone, and the tablets he’d used. Police found about 114 sexually suggestive images of female minors that had been taken between September 3 through September 10. A search of the tablets found that they had been used to search for child pornography.

Nester had been convicted in 2007 for downloading and viewing child pornography. He had been sentenced to five years in prison and 10 year supervised release for the offense.

Charges from the 2012 Best Buy incident netted Nesler 10 years in prison and a lifetime of supervision.  

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

UPDATED: Memphis Honors B.B. King

Posted By on Wed, May 27, 2015 at 12:21 PM

  • Jackson Baker
UPDATED: Fans, family, friends, musicians, and local dignitaries gathered on Beale Street in the rain, Wednesday, to honor the King of the Blues, B.B. King. Tributes were heard from band members and other musicians, with a processional down Beale to follow. Jackson Backer shot the first three pictures. The remaining shots are by Justin Fox Burks.
  • Jackson Baker
The Signing Board
  • The Signing Board
Justin Fox Burks
  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Justin Fox Burks
  • jus
  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Justin Fox Burks
  • Justin Fox Burks

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Man Sentenced in Theft of Sir Elton John's Glasses

Posted By on Tue, May 26, 2015 at 2:53 PM

  • Colvin
The man who stole Sir Elton John’s glasses from the Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum last month was given a two-year, suspended sentence with probation.

In court Tuesday, Matthew Colvin, 26, of Cordova, pleaded guilty to stealing the glasses.

The glasses were recovered by the Memphis Police Department within a week of their disappearance from the museum.

Colvin was charged with the crime on May 4 and could have received up to four years in prison.

The glasses are on loan to the museum from Hard Rock Cafe International. The glasses are heart-shaped blue prescription glasses from Anglo-American-Apparel glasses of England. Also stolen (and also recovered) was a red glasses sleeve from L.A. Eyeworks. 

TDOT: "Old Bridge" Could Close for up to Nine Months

Posted By on Tue, May 26, 2015 at 12:06 PM


The Memphis-Arkansas bridge (commonly called the "Old Bridge") could be closed for up to nine months during the proposed, three-year construction project to change the I-55 interchange at E.H. Crump Boulevard.

The new timeline information comes from a Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) flyer inviting the public to meetings for information and comments on the potential impacts of the construction.

The first of two meetings will be held Monday, June 1 at the West Memphis Civic Center (228 West Polk) from 3:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, June 4 in Memphis at MATA Central Station (545 S. Main) from 3:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

TDOT said, “the benefits of the project include reduced congestion, reduced number of crashes, and restored interstate route continuity.”

The public can submit comments at the meetings or within 21 days after the meetings.

Here’s what TDOT had to say about the design for the project when they chose it back in 2010:

“The current interchange is utilized by high volumes of traffic and is outdated, posing numerous safety and efficiency problems. The new design will allow I-55 traffic to flow continuously through the area.

“The existing cloverleaf interchange will be replaced with a roundabout, which will allow universal access for all north, south, east, and westbound local traffic. The new interchange will use less space than the existing cloverleaf and will require no residential or business displacements.”

B.B. King Memorialized in Memphis Wednesday

Posted By on Tue, May 26, 2015 at 11:21 AM


B.B. King will be memorialized in Memphis Wednesday with a musical tribute at WC Handy Park and a walking processional down Beale Street.

The blues musician died on May 14 in Las Vegas, where a viewing and memorial service were held Friday and Saturday. There will be no public viewing of King’s remains in Memphis.

His body will arrive in Memphis by airplane and, then, be transported by hearse to Indianola, Miss. for a public viewing at the B.B. King Museum on Friday, May 29 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Funeral services will be held Saturday, May 30 at Bell Grove Missionary Baptist Church from 11 a.m.-3p.m.

On Wednesday, video salutes to King and clips of his performances will begin at Handy Park at 10:30 a.m. The Memphis Musical Tribute to King will begin on the stage in Handy Park at 11 a.m. The program will include performances by blues musicians and remarks from King’s friends and supporters.

The processional will begin after the tribute ends at 12:30 p.m. The processional will be led by a person carrying King’s guitar, Lucille, followed by brass band comprised of local and regional musicians. The hearse will be at the center of the processional.

A car processional will follow, led by Memphis Mayor A C Wharton. The group will deliver King’s remains to the Mississippi state line.

The event is free and open to the public. Participants are asked to wear blue in honor of King, the “King of the Blues.”

Friday, May 22, 2015

Tennessee Brewery: The Revival's Virtual Time Capsule

Posted By on Fri, May 22, 2015 at 1:49 PM


There are only two weekends left for Tennessee Brewery: The Revival, so organizers of the weekly pop-up beer garden are gathering memories from attendees for a virtual time capsule. 

They're asking people to share any memories relating to the Tennessee Brewery, whether from last year's Untapped beer garden or The Revival or from any time in the lifespan of the long-vacant, century-old former home of Goldcrest 51 beer.

Memories can be shared on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #BreweryMemory or on the brewery's Facebook page, and they'll be documented for the future era of the brewery. Developer Billy Orgel has plans to turn the space into a residential facility.

The Revival is open this weekend and runs through May 31st.

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Pace Cooper Named Chair of Airport Board

Posted By on Thu, May 21, 2015 at 1:19 PM

Pace Cooper
  • Pace Cooper
Hotel management executive Pace Cooper will succeed Jack Sammons as chairman of the Memphis and Shelby County Airport Authority.

Cooper, president and CEO of Cooper Hotels, won the seat over fellow board member J.W. Gibson by a vote of five to one.

Sammons lefts the board in April to assume a position as city chief administrative officer under Mayor A C Wharton.

Cooper is a third-generation leader in his family's' hotel company. He's a graduate of Columbia College in New York City and holds an master's in business administration from Harvard Business School. Cooper Hotels manages 21 hotels in seven states, including the DoubleTree by Hilton on Sanderlin in Memphis.

“I am humbled to be elected chairman and I care deeply about this airport. I appreciate all the support and encouragement I’ve received from community leaders, fellow board members and airport staff," said Cooper in a media release. "We will work hard every day on growing our air service in small steps, but if we achieve enough baby steps, the result will be a monumental leap forward. We have a great leadership team and I’m confident that goods days are ahead for the Memphis Airport.”

Jim Keras, president of Jim Keras Automotive Group in Memphis, will succeed Cooper as vice chairman, and Pamela Z. Cleary, executive vice president and partner for Community Capital LLC, will serve as secretary.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Noura Jackson Pleads to Manslaughter, Could Get Parole Soon

Posted By on Wed, May 20, 2015 at 11:58 AM

Noura Jackson could soon walk out of jail, where she’s been for more than nine years.

Jackson was convicted in 2009 of the second-degree murder of her mother, Jennifer Jackson, in 2005. The conviction was overturned by the Tennessee Supreme Court last year on trial violations by Amy Weirich, the Shelby County District Attorney General.

Jackson pleaded guilty Wednesday to voluntary manslaughter in a plea deal struck between her attorneys and the special prosecutor on the case, 25th District District Attorney Mike Dunavant.

Dunavant said he reviewed Weirich’s previous trial of Jackson and said it’s the main reason he agreed to the deal.

“We believe that we would have called the same witnesses and would have intended to put on the same material proof regarding the allegations that the defendant knowingly and intentionally caused the death of her mother, Jennifer Jackson,” Dunavant said in court Wednesday. “With these settlement negations, we believe that this is, in fact, in the best interest of the state of Tennessee and to the victim’s family.”

A news release from Weirich’s office issued after the hearing also noted that “many of the original trial witnesses are unavailable or uncooperative with the state” and said this was another reason the deal was offered.

Under the terms of the deal, Jackson pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter, down from second-degree murder.

Criminal Court Judge Chris Craft explained voluntary manslaughter to Jackson on the stand Wednesday saying it is “a knowing intentional killing of someone else. But you had adequate provocation and you killed the person after having received enough provocation to make a reasonable person act in an unreasonable manner.”

Jackson agreed to the deal only under an Alford plea, in which Jackson gets to maintain her innocence but admits that the prosecution probably has enough evidence to convict her.

Jackson showed little emotion in the courtroom Wednesday and answer edJudge Craft only with, “yes, sir” or “no, sir.” The only color she showed during the hearing at all was after Craft explained the Alford plea to her.

Craft: “(With an Alford plea) you can plead to something you say you didn’t do if you think it is in your best interest; that if you went to trial you might be convicted and you might get more time. Is that why you’re pleading guilty?”

Jackson: “That’s the only reason why.”

Jackson’s family agreed to the deal with one condition - that Jackson have no contact with them.

The plea and her time served in jail makes her immediately eligible for parole. But Craft explained that the decision to order a parole hearing and to grant or deny a parole was up to the Tennessee Department of Parole and the Tennessee Department of Corrections.

Jackson’s attorney Valerie Corder said she believes the state will act “fairly quickly” on a parole hearing for Jackson, noting she had already faxed officials a copy of the judgment sheets from Wednesday’s hearings. She said the state will calculate her days of credit for the nearly nine-a-half years she served in jail and then determine Jackson’s release date. But she did not want to speculate on a when Jackson may be freed.

Corder said Jackson had been had been “unlawfully prosecuted and unconstitutionally convicted.” After Wednesday’s hearing, Corder said Jackson was “conflicted and emotional,” noting that she had to listen to Craft list off all of the rights she would have been afforded if she decided to stay and fight.

“It’s not a perfect outcome but, then, in life, what is?” Corder said. “It’s a resolution that the state can live with, my client can live with and allows her to begin her life again.

“So in that respect it became a choice between staying incarcerated, since she was repeatedly denied a bond, or attempting to continue to fight the charge or accepting the offer the state made, which would mean her virtually immediate release into freedom.”

Jackson is 28. She told Judge Craft Wednesday that before she was convicted she had only completed 11th grade but received her G.E.D. in prison.

City to Buy, Renovate State Building in $8M Deal

Posted By on Wed, May 20, 2015 at 8:53 AM

Former Donnelly J. Hill State Office Building. - TOBY SELLS
  • Toby Sells
  • Former Donnelly J. Hill State Office Building.

The Memphis City Council agreed Tuesday to purchase the former Donnelly J. Hill State Office Building for $1.5 million and begin a renovation and moving project that will push the entire project to more than $8 million. 

The state vacated the building last year, and its offices are now housed down Main Street at One Commerce Square. The building is a Civic Plaza neighbor of Memphis City Hall located just across the trolley tracks at 170 N. Main. City officials have been in negotiations with the state since last summer to buy the building.

The original deal was a swap. The state would give the city the 12-story, 44-year-old building in exchange for the use of 400 parking spaces at the Peabody Place garage for 15 years. The parking spots were valued at around $2.2 million for the term. The deal wash canned to an outright purchase in August for $2.2 million.

The final deal approved by council Tuesday has the city buying the building for $1.5 million. But the city will spend more than $6.2 million to renovate the building and $680,000 to relocate several city offices to the building.

So far, the Memphis Police Department will be the building’s biggest tenant and will leave its current headquarters at 201 Poplar. The new city building will also house the division of Housing and Community Development, the Memphis Housing Authority, and some smaller divisions.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Crone Wins Temporary Council Seat

Posted By on Tue, May 19, 2015 at 4:44 PM

  • Crone
Alan Crone was appointed to fill the Memphis City Council seat left vacant by Shea Flinn in April.

Crone is a native Memphian and an attorney with the Memphis firm Crone + McEvoy. He told council members Tuesday that he wants to help a build a city that his three children would choose as a home.

"There's lot to do this summer to make sure that happens," Crone said. "I'm ready to roll up my sleeves and get into the details and work hard to make Memphis a better place."

Perhaps his biggest selling point for many council members, however, was the fact that Crone said he would not run for the super District 9, Position 2 seat in October.

Crone said he worked in Gov. Don Sundquist's administration in the 1990s and has since served in elected positions and on the boards of several nonprofit agencies.   

The final tally of the run-off vote by council members gave Crone seven votes and activist Fran Triplett three votes. Voting for Crone were council members Edmund Ford Jr., Reid Hedgepeth, Bill Morrison, Jim Strickland, Berlin Boyd, Bill Boyd, and Kemp Conrad.  Voting for Triplett were council members Joe Brown, Harold Collins, and Janis Fullilove.   

Other candidates for the seat included, Shelby County Schools board member Stephanie Gatewood, FedEx executive Philip Spinosa Jr., union leader Paul Shaffer, city, business owner Diane Cambron, former East High School principal Lowell Winston, and restaurant supply store owner Lester Lit.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Scenes from Barbecue Fest

Posted on Mon, May 18, 2015 at 10:55 AM


Friday, May 15, 2015

B.B. King Dies at Age 89

Posted By on Fri, May 15, 2015 at 8:27 AM

Blues legend B.B. King died in his sleep Thursday night at the age of 89.

The "King of the Blues" had struggled with diabetes for some time. He died peacefully in his sleep around 9:40 Pacific Time in his Las Vegas home, where he was in hospice care, according to his attorney Brent Bryson.

King was born in Mississippi, but he later called Memphis home. He rose to fame in the 1950s, and he's since won more than a dozen Grammy's. He's also received the high honors of being named to the Blues Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. King has recorded more than 50 albums and continued to tour throughout his 80s.


This morning, Mayor A C Wharton issued the following statement about B.B. King's passing:

"People who don’t follow national politics are familiar with the name of John Kennedy. Those who know nothing about basketball have at least heard of Michael Jordan. There are certain individuals who are absolutely transcendent – their personalities become bigger than the field in which they are best known. Such is the case with B. B. King. Those who never heard or had the blues knew his name.

We have our own Memphis Music Hall of Fame because this city has been foundational in the careers of icons like Elvis Presley, Al Green, Johnny Cash, and Isaac Hayes to name a few. Even among other musical legends, B. B. King was a giant in terms of his influence.

This loss is particularly hurtful for our city because B. B. and Memphis had a longtime love affair. The fact that Beale Street Blues Boy is the origin of the nickname B. B. is the type of authentic connection that will never die.

It is altogether fitting that we will mark the life of B. B. King on Beale Street this weekend. Some earn titles through elections and others through military conquest. But people all over the world have agreed for many years that B. B. was and will always be the KING OF THE BLUES – a title earned through music and performance, not according to his family name.

We will all miss this American icon. But, B. B. King’s legacy and music will live on."


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Liquidation Sale at Memphis Bicycle Company

Posted By on Thu, May 14, 2015 at 4:37 PM

The old Memphis Bicycle Company on Summer has been closed for years, but passersby have likely noticed that the store is still packed with merchandise. 

The building has new owners, and they're looking off-load that merchandise. The first phase of liquidation for the historic store will be held this weekend. The sale will include old Schwinn and other brands of bicycles, parts, signs, and other items, some as old as 50 years. There are cruiser bikes from the 1950s and 1960s and 10-speeds from the 1970s.

The bikes will range in price from $25 to $55 on average, but some models may be more expensive. Bike parts, such as saddles and seats, tires, tubes, derailleurs, and will be priced at around $5.

The sale runs Saturday through Sunday, May 16th and 17th from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 2575 Summer.


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Memphis Lands on "Best" List (and It's Not for Barbecue)

Posted By on Thu, May 14, 2015 at 9:45 AM

Paddlers push their boats down the Mississippi River during a previous running of the Outdoors Inc. Canoe and Kayak Race. - JOE ROYER
  • Joe Royer
  • Paddlers push their boats down the Mississippi River during a previous running of the Outdoors Inc. Canoe and Kayak Race.

Look no farther than Tom Lee Park this weekend for proof that Memphis is tops in barbecue.

But look right off the bank of the park - into the Mississippi River - to find out why Memphis is now renowned for something completely different - paddling.

Canoe & Kayak magazine has deemed the city one of the best places in North America to paddle in a (you guessed it) canoe or kayak (probably stand-up paddle boards, too).

The magazine’s June issue will feature the list of its “Best Paddling Towns” and here’s a sample of what writers said about Memphis:

“With America’s great riverine artery pulsing through, Memphis (pop. 653,000) has always been a river town. The Mississippi carried influences from north and south, and stirred the pot that gave us such cultural delicacies as barbecue and the blues. The Big Muddy, with its intimate back channels and quiet tributaries like the Wolf River, also makes Memphis a first-rate paddling town.”

The article notes, too, that the Outdoors Inc. Canoe and Kayak Race helped win the distinction, calling the race “the South’s biggest paddling event.” The race turns 34 this year and will be run on Saturday, June 20.

Memphis is in fine company on a list that includes Washington, D.C., the Florida Keys, Lake Placid, New York, and Old Town, Maine.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

State Corrections Officer Indicted for Sexual Misconduct with an Inmate

Posted By on Wed, May 13, 2015 at 4:03 PM

A state corrections officer was indicted Tuesday on charges of official misconduct and having sexual misconduct with an inmate. 

Ocissie Hayes Jr., 44, was indicted Tuesday by the Shelby County District Attorney's Office. He was working at the Mark Luttrell Correctional Center, one of three female female facilities in the state prison system.

An investigation into Hayes reported Hayes had an inappropriate relationship with a female inmate, 52, who is serving time on theft charges. The report said the relationship included unauthorized telephone conversations, kissing, and sexual fondling in her cell, according to the D.A.'s office. 

The case is being handled by Carrie Shelton, chief prosecutor of the D.A.’s Special Victims Unit that prosecutes cases of child sexual abuse, severe physical abuse of child victims, rape and aggravated rape of adult victims, and abuse of elderly and vulnerable adults.
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