Community News

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

AOVS Golf Tournament Benefits Homeless Vets

Posted By on Wed, Sep 24, 2014 at 3:34 PM


There are approximately 4,000 homeless people in the Memphis area during the course of a year. Around one-third of these individuals are male veterans, according to Alpha Omega Veterans Services (AOVS).

Since 1987, AOVS, which is the country's first private, non-profit corporation established to serve disabled and/or displaced military veterans, has provided resources to nearly 9,000 veterans.

The organization's 9th annual AOVS Golf Classic this Friday (September 26th) will help them continue assisting the city’s homeless veteran population. The event will take place at Memphis National Golf Club. The shotgun start is 1 p.m.

“The homeless veteran suffers from problems unique to this specific segment of the population and requires special services,” said Cordell Walker, executive director of AOVS. “Residents of Alpha Omega have acknowledged their problems and are asking only for assistance as they work to re-establish themselves as productive American citizens. Many of our recent clients served in the Persian Gulf, Iraq, and Afghanistan wars.”

Renowned bakery, Muddy's Bake Shop, is one of the sponsors for this year’s AOVS golf tournament. The bakery is also donating all of the proceeds contributed to its “Refill Our Community With Positive Change” (ROCWPC) jar throughout the month of September to AOVS.

Sara Shackelford-Newcomb of Muddy's Bake Shop said the company selected AOVS as its September ROCWPC recipient after learning about the organization’s efforts and the number of local veterans experiencing homelessness.

“I think it's important to point out the amazing things that folks are doing in this city. At Muddy's, we're aware of the problems, but also want to be a strong voice in celebrating and supporting the good,” Shackelford-Newcomb said. “We think selecting AOVS for our September ROCWPC jar recipient is one small way we can do that.”

AOVS will use the donated funding to continue providing services at its six different facilities in the Memphis area. The organization provides food, clothing, multiple transitional and permanent housing units, counseling, transportation, and assistance in education, employment, and rehabilitation.

“We are honored that Muddy's Bake Shop has chosen us as their agency of the month," Walker said. "This being the month of our annual Golf Classic makes this most timely in helping us to spread the word about our initiatives to serve our disabled/displaced veteran population. The proceeds will go towards maintaining the quality program standards in serving our ever-increasing number of soldiers — both male and female — that are in need of our services.”

Entry to the AOVS Golf Classic is $125. A group of four can participate for $450. For more information on the event, click here.

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Man Sentenced to Life for Fatal Stabbing of Girlfriend

Posted By on Sat, Sep 20, 2014 at 12:37 PM

Maurice Blocker
  • Maurice Blocker

Maurice Blocker, 57, has been convicted of first-degree murder in the 2012 stabbing death of his 44-year-old girlfriend Laticia Boddie, according to the Shelby County District Attorney General’s office.

During a visit to Boddie’s friend’s house in South Memphis, Blocker and Boddie got into an argument. Blocker reportedly became angry and began to punch and kick her.

According to witness accounts, Boddie attempted to flee but fell. Blocker caught up with her and stabbed her multiple times with a knife. Boddie died from her injuries later at the Regional Medical Center.

Following the stabbing, Blocker fled out of state. He was arrested in California about two months later and transported back to Memphis.

Blocker has been sentenced to life in prison for Boddie's murder.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Man Convicted of Throwing Molotov Cocktail into Liquor Store

Posted By on Fri, Sep 19, 2014 at 3:31 PM

Elvis Presley Strickland
  • Elvis Presley Strickland

A 57-year-old man faces up to 40 years in prison for throwing a Molotov cocktail into an occupied liquor store.

Last May, Elvis Presley Strickland reportedly threw a flaming gasoline-filled bottle into Coda’s Liquor Store (4707 South Third), causing smoke and fire damage, according to the Shelby County District Attorney General’s office.

Strickland, a repeat offender who has six prior felony convictions, was arrested later at Shelby Drive and South Third.

Strickland was convicted of aggravated arson for the incident Thursday. The maximum sentence allowed by law for repeat felony offenders is being sought in Strickland’s case. He will be sentenced October 27th.

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Minister Convicted of Exposing Former Girlfriend to HIV

Posted By on Fri, Sep 19, 2014 at 3:20 PM

Rodney Carr
  • Rodney Carr

A Memphis minister is facing up to six years in prison for exposing his former girlfriend to HIV.

Rodney Carr, former pastor of Fellowship of Believers in Christ Church, has been convicted of criminal exposure to HIV, according to the Shelby County District Attorney General’s office.

Carr allegedly infected an unidentified 35-year-old woman with HIV between 2009 and 2010, several years after he tested positive for the virus in 2005. The woman told jurors Carr never informed her that he was HIV-positive during their relationship. She tested positive for HIV after their relationship ended.

Carr will be sentenced on October 10th. He faces three to six years in prison.

Those infected with HIV, human immunodeficiency virus, can have the disease for years before developing symptoms. For some, unfortunately, when they do discover they've contracted the virus, it has progressed to its advanced and more life-threatening form: acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

More than 635,000 people in the United States have died from the virus; an estimated 36 million people have died globally since the first cases were reported in 1981, according to the World Health Organization.

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

New Poplar Plaza Security Measures Revealed During Community Meeting

Posted By on Thu, Sep 18, 2014 at 4:24 PM


A couple of weeks after teenagers involved in a flash mob beat three people in the Poplar Plaza Kroger parking lot, residents of the High Point Terrace neighborhood are still worried about being victimized when they travel to the grocery store.

Many of those concerned residents gathered in the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church’s Fellowship Hall during the High Point Terrace Neighborhood Watch and Association’s meeting Wednesday night.

The event brought together more than 150 people: area residents, elected officials, Memphis city councilmen, Shelby County commissioners, employees from both the Poplar Plaza Kroger and CiCi’s Pizza (where the teens met up before the Kroger parking lot situation), and representatives from Shelby County Juvenile Court, law enforcement, and civic organizations.

Locals submitted questions about crime in the area — primarily the Kroger incident and what’s being done to make sure a similar occurrence doesn’t take place in the future.

“I want to know what protection they’re going to have in the parking lot to control this,” said one long-time High Point resident. “My way of thinking is, the kids should not be there in a group anymore. They should be monitored. I just want to see that it doesn’t happen again. There needs to be more parental control. And there has to be some justification for your actions.”

Various members of law enforcement commented on the Kroger issue and disclosed how they’re working to better assure the safety of all community residents.

Tillman Precinct Commander Colonel Terry Landrum informed the crowd that a new surveillance camera had been installed at the Poplar Plaza Kroger. Landrum said that he’s diverted some of Tillman Precinct’s bike patrol to the Poplar area and has also increased the number of police cruisers patrolling the area.


Landrum also revealed that Finard Properties, the company that owns the Poplar Plaza property, had increased security there, and Kroger is considering hiring uniformed patrol officers.

“Poplar Plaza was a terrible incident to occur. There was no real warning that it was going to happen,” Landrum said. “It’s regrettable. It’s something that we don’t expect to happen again. I cannot promise you that it won’t happen again. It can happen anywhere. Since this incident, we’ve taken every step that we should’ve taken to make sure this does not happen again.”

Other people who spoke during the meeting included Memphis Police Department Deputy Chief Clete Knight, Deputy District Attorney General Jennifer Nichols, Shelby County Juvenile Court Detention Center Administrator Gary Cummings, Rick Smith of Finard Properties, Memphis City Councilwoman Wanda Halbert, and Shelby County Commission Chairman Justin Ford.

Each person shared ideas on what can be done to make sure no one else is victimized in Poplar Plaza and throughout the community. Many of the ideas involved mentoring to at-risk youth and having more churches and schools open up their gyms for teens to utilize outside of school hours.

“Have you seen a great spike of churches opening up at night to offer their gyms? Have you seen Shelby County Schools open up their gyms to offer the kids something to do?” inquired Shelby County Commissioner Mark Billingsley. “Unfortunately, the answer is no. Instead of waiting another year for us to do nothing, you’ve got to hold people like me, and the city council, accountable. Six months from now, you need to hold another one of these [meetings] to say, ‘What schools do we have open at night? What churches are open at night? And how many people in this room are mentoring a child?’ I would just encourage you, if anything, [to do that], or [crime] will be a bullet away from your family.”

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Teacher, Firefighter Indicted on Statutory Rape Charges

Posted By on Tue, Sep 16, 2014 at 4:25 PM

Michael Lewis
  • Michael Lewis

A Bolton High School teacher and a Memphis firefighter are both facing years in prison for the alleged statutory rape of two teenagers.

Michael Lewis, a 32-year-old teacher and assistant baseball coach at Bolton High School, reportedly maintained a consensual sexual relationship with a 17-year-old female student. According to the Shelby County District Attorney General’s office, Lewis had sex with the student in his classroom after school, as well as at his Bartlett home.

Lewis’ roommate, Bryan Wilson, a 32-year-old Memphis firefighter and paramedic, has also been charged for having consensual sex with a different 17-year-old female. The underage teen informed authorities that she had sex with Wilson on several occasions at the home that he and Lewis shared.

A Shelby County Grand Jury indicted Lewis on seven felony charges, including three counts of statutory rape by an authority figure, three counts of sexual battery by an authority figure, and aggravated statutory rape.

Wilson has been indicted on charges of aggravated statutory rape.

Aggravated statutory rape carries a punishment of 2 to 12 years in prison. The offense involves a victim at least 13 years old and less than 18, and an offender who is at least 10 years older than the victim.

Statutory rape by an authority figure and sexual battery by an authority figure both carry a punishment of 3 to 15 years in prison.

Lewis is free on $30,000 bond. Wilson is free on $25,000 bond.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

City Receives More Than $1 Million in Grants to Combat Gangs, Domestic Violence

Posted By on Wed, Sep 10, 2014 at 4:50 PM

Edward Stanton
  • Edward Stanton

From the mob of teens that beat down three people at the Poplar Plaza Kroger to the woman who was shot by her ex-boyfriend in the Colonial Target parking lot, gangs and domestic violence have been making headlines lately.

But two grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), which collectively exceed $1 million, will be used to combat both of the aforementioned issues.

In a DOJ press release, Edward Stanton, United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, disclosed on Wednesday, September 10th, that the City of Memphis had been awarded the “Grant to Encourage Arrest Policies and Enforcement of Protection Orders.” Totaling $900,000, the grant will help enforce protection orders and protect victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

The City of Memphis, along with the Shelby County Rape Crisis Center, will collaboratively use the grant to “improve post-testing requirements for victim notifications, investigations, and prosecution of increased sexual assault cases resulting from the processing of the backlog of sexual assault kits,” according to the press release.

The city also received a $148,885 “Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant,” which will be used to reduce gang and gun violence locally. In collaboration with the Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) task force, a collective comprised of federal, state, and local law enforcement committed to lowering violent crime, the city will use the grant to "expand its data analysis and tracking capabilities, in order to ensure more efficient and targeted law enforcement efforts against gang and gun violence."

The grant will also enable the PSN task force and city to collaboratively deter more youth away from the criminal justice system, develop more effective community outreach efforts, and also implement more aggressive prosecutions.

“Events of recent weeks have served as a tragic reminder of the need to protect victims of domestic violence and hold accountable those who commit violent crimes,” Stanton said in a statement. “The new $900,000 grant from the DOJ Office on Violence Against Women will help local authorities process the backlog in sexual assault kits and prosecute those who commit such heinous acts to the fullest extent the law allows. And the Project Safe Neighborhoods grant will bolster our ongoing efforts to track down and bring to justice those who illegally possess and use firearms. Together, these grants total over a million dollars, and they underscore the Department of Justice’s commitment to keeping our citizens safe and protecting victims — especially victims of domestic violence.”

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Scenes from the Memphis Love Mob

Posted By on Wed, Sep 10, 2014 at 4:16 PM

Photographer Frank Chin caught all the cuddly action at Tuesday's Love Mob, a pro-Memphis flash mob at Highland and Poplar. The action was organized to counter the violence of last weekend's brutal Poplar Plaza Kroger parking lot beatdown.

The Love Mob's organizers set up a Facebook page Tuesday, and they say they plan to hold more similar events.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Love Mob Today Near Poplar Plaza Kroger

Posted By on Tue, Sep 9, 2014 at 1:22 PM

A group of Memphians has organized a Love Mob to counteract this past weekend's beating of three people by a mob of teenagers in the Poplar Plaza Kroger parking lot. The Love Mob is scheduled for this afternoon from 4 to 7 p.m.

The Love Mob is intended as "a peaceful demonstration of love for our city, its businesses, and our fellow citizens," according to the event's Facebook page.

Because legal demonstrations are only allowed on public property, the group will not gather in the Kroger lot but rather nearby at the Highland and Poplar intersection. The group is using the hashtag #lovemobmem.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Three People Beaten by Mob of Teens in Kroger Parking Lot

Posted By on Sun, Sep 7, 2014 at 5:24 PM


Three people were brutally beaten by a mob of teens in the parking lot of the Kroger at Highland and Poplar Saturday night.

Two of the victims were reportedly teenage Kroger employees coming to the aid of a customer being attacked by the group. A video of the incident has gone viral.

The group of culprits came from the direction of a nearby CiCi’s Pizza. They shouted the words “Fam Mob,” which is a Memphis-based gang, as they approached the grocery store.

According to law enforcement, several people in the group attacked a 25-year-old man as he was exiting his vehicle. He suffered numerous blows to the face before fleeing inside the grocery store.

Two male Kroger employees, ages 17 and 18, attempted to help the man as the gang swarmed him, but were reportedly punched, kicked, and hit with pumpkins until they lost consciousness near the store’s front entrance.

Memphis Police Department Director Toney Armstrong issued a statement condemning the incident: “It is extremely troubling to see how many young people were involved, especially on the heels of last week’s youth forum. A lot of our citizens are working to provide safe and productive alternatives for our youth. For those that choose not to take advantage of these opportunities, we will work tirelessly to identify, locate and hold you accountable. Last night’s events clearly demonstrates a lack of parental controls and if warranted these parents will also be held accountable.”

Anyone with information on the occurrence is encouraged to contact the Tillman Police Station at 901-636-3214 or Crime Stoppers at 901-528-CASH.

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Beale Street $10 Cover Charge Discontinued

Posted By on Thu, Sep 4, 2014 at 1:16 PM


People visiting Memphis' beloved Beale Street after midnight on Sunday mornings no longer have to worry about paying a $10 cover charge to access the street.

Paul Morris, president of the Downtown Memphis Commission, revealed in a letter to Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Wednesday that a decision had been made to no longer enforce the fee.

The fee had been enforced for the two weekends prior to Labor Day weekend, but it was not enforced over the holiday.

The $10 cover charge was introduced after a video of Memphian Jonathan Parker laying unconscious in a pool of his own blood on the street around 2 a.m. on Sunday, August 10th, went viral. The footage showed people gathered around Parker recording videos and snapping pictures of his motionless body but not seeking the assistance of authorities.

After the incident received a whirlwind of attention, local law enforcement, the Beale Street Merchants Association, and the Downtown Memphis Commission collectively agreed on enforcing a $10 cover charge to limit the potential for a similar occurrence in the future, as well as to combat overcrowding.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Former NBA Star Elliot Perry Showcases Art Collection

Posted By on Wed, Sep 3, 2014 at 5:04 PM


Elliot Perry not only possesses a love for basketball, he also has a passion for art.

An 11-year NBA player, University of Memphis (U of M) alumnus, and former Tigers point guard, Perry, along with his wife, Kim, have been collecting contemporary African-American artwork for years. And the couple are currently showcasing the latest acquisitions to their “Elliot & Kimberly Perry Collection” at the U of M’s Martha and Robert Fogelman Galleries of Contemporary Art.

Although the collection is already on view, an opening reception for the exhibit will take place Thursday, September 11th, in the Art and Communication Building (3715 Central Ave). Located across from the U of M Holiday Inn, the event will last from 5 to 8 p.m.

Artwork by Radcliffe Bailey, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Bethany Collins, Noah Davis, Abigail DeVille, Theaster Gates, Leslie Hewitt, Jennie C. Jones, Tony Lewis, Kori Newkirk, and Demetrius Oliver are amid the pieces featured in the exhibit.

Selections from the Elliot & Kimberly Perry Collection will be on display until October 10th.

The U of M’s Martha and Robert Fogelman Galleries are open during regular university business hours in rooms 230 and 240 of the Art and Communication Building. For more information, call the Department of Art at (901) 678-221.

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Mother Indicted in Child’s Death, Killer on Death Row Gets Additional 21-Year Sentence

Posted By on Sat, Aug 30, 2014 at 11:32 AM


Mother Indicted in Child's Death

A Memphis mother has been indicted on reckless homicide charges in the death of her four-month-old daughter.

On November 23rd, 2013, Catrina Perryman, 34, alerted paramedics that her infant daughter, Isabella Chavez, had been having difficulty breathing and was turning blue, according to the Shelby County District Attorney General’s office. Chavez succumbed to drug toxicity at her mother’s home.

Although Perryman initially informed authorities that her child was given only ibuprofen, an autopsy revealed Chavez also had a level of Benadryl in her system that was several times the amount considered to be therapeutic for an adult.

Killer on Death Row Gets Additional 21-Year Sentence


A Memphis man currently on death row for murdering his girlfriend and her parents has received an additional 21-year prison sentence for attempted murder and several other offenses.

Sedrick Clayton, 31, was convicted in June on three counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Pashea Fisher, 23, and her parents Arithio Fisher, 56, and Patricia Fisher, 46. The murders happened on January 19th, 2012, following an argument between Clayton and Pashea.

On Friday, prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed to sentencing Clayton to an additional 21 years for offenses stemming from the same incident. According to the Shelby County District Attorney General’s office, Clayton received 15 years for attempted murder, six years for employment of a firearm, three years for possession of a firearm, and 11 months and 29 days for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.

Clayton’s attempted murder and employment of a firearm sentences will run consecutively, while the others will be concurrent.

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Florida Man Sentenced to 25 Years For Raping Child in Tennessee

Posted By on Fri, Aug 29, 2014 at 1:19 PM

  • Florida Department of Law Enforcement

An Oviedo, Florida man currently serving 15 years for sexual battery on a minor has received an additional 25-year sentence for raping the same child in Tennessee.

Marc Anthony Baechtle, 46, will serve a 25-year prison sentence in Tennessee subsequent to completing the remaining eight years of his Florida sentence. According to the Shelby County District Attorney General’s office, Baechtle began sexually assaulting a Florida girl when she was 10 years old. It continued for several years and took place in several states.

The victim, now an adult, appeared in Criminal Court Thursday, August 28th, and asked the judge to sentence Baechtle to the 25-year maximum for his criminal actions. The lady said he “ripped her childhood from her and that she testified against him in trial in July so he could not do the same to others,” according to a press release from the District Attorney General’s office.

Baechtle issued an apologetic statement to the court for his actions, and he requested maximal punishment: “I hope you give me the maximum sentence, because I deserve it.”

Baechtle’s Tennessee sentence carries no parole. He will be on the Tennessee Sex Offender Registry and under community supervision for life. In Florida, he is classified as a sexual predator under the law.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

UTHSC Chair Awarded $1.85 Million Grant to Continue Research of Alcohol Effects on the Brain

Posted By on Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 3:16 PM

Dr. Alex Dopico
  • Dr. Alex Dopico

Enjoying a cocktail or two won't kill you, but over-consumption of alcoholic beverages isn't good for one's health.

For more than 20 years, Dr. Alex Dopico, professor and chair of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s (UTHSC) Department of Pharmacology, has researched alcohol’s effects on ion channel proteins in the central nervous system and brain circulation.

In 2009, Dopico was awarded a $3.6 million Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) Award from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Dopico was permitted to use the award over a 10-year period for his alcohol studies, which involves him researching the effects of alcohol on BK channels in excitable cells, such as central neurons and brain arterial smooth muscle.

The first half of Dopico’s MERIT Award expired this past June. He was recently awarded a $1.85 million extension to fund the remaining five years of his research. With the additional funding, Dopico seeks to develop drugs that target the proteins within cells that control the physiological and behavioral changes associated with alcohol intoxication in order to prevent or reverse those effects, according to a UTHSC press release.

“My job is to find molecular sites and mechanisms by which alcohol affects excitable tissue physiology, and thus agents that fight the consequences of alcohol intoxication in the brain,” Dopico said in a statement. “To do that, you need to find the protein sites where alcohol docks or interacts, and we had a very critical breakthrough in the BK channel protein.”

Excessive alcohol use led to approximately 88,000 deaths and 2.5 million years of potential life lost each year in the United States from 2006 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Also, excessive drinking was responsible for one in 10 deaths among adults aged 20 — 64 years. The economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption in 2006 were estimated at $223.5 billion, or $1.90 a drink.

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