Two teens accused of killing another teen on his front porch in Antioch in 2021 have been found guilty of first-degree murder.
E.J. Utley was 15 at the time he was killed and a freshman at Hillsboro High School. According to police and court testimony, EJ was killed on his father’s front porch by then 16-year-old Wilton Alexander after being lured out of the home by Wilton’s girlfriend, Trameisha Farris, who was 15 at the time.
Assistant District Attorney Jenny Charles tried the case, along with ADA’s Chantley Frazier, Wesley King, and Victim Witness Coordinator Cathy Harrison. General Charles admits it was a hard fought trial, and she’s thankful the Utley family received a favorable verdict.
EJ Utley and Wilton Alexander had been close friends, playing basketball together growing up. Their mothers were also close friends, and were both in court for the trial. A unique aspect during the trial came when Detective Chad High (a Metro Police Department expert) testified that the defense attorney’s late disclosed exhibits were potentially doctored and unreliable.
The jury agreed with that assessment, as well as the other proof presented by Nashville DA’s Prosecutorial team, and took less than 3 hours to convict both defendants. Both Alexander and Farris have been sentenced to life in prison.
Pictured below is the Nashville District Attorney’s team with EJ Utley’s family. Also pictured are the two defendants.
A man considered by many to be the Kingpin of Nashville’s Street Racing Scene has hit the brakes, thanks to the Nashville District Attorney’s Office.
Austin Scott entered a guilty plea last week in courtroom 5D in front of Judge Melissa Blackburn.
Scott pled guilty to 4 counts of Inciting a Riot and 1 count of Reckless Driving.
Scott’s effective sentence is two 11/29 sentences suspended to supervised probation. The terms of his probation are that he must complete a number of public safety courses, including the ADDC8 course and the Arrive Alive at 25 course, along with 48 hours of community service, and adhere to the ‘stay away’ order that prohibits him from any form of street racing activity or gathering, including through social media of any kind.
Community leaders praised the cooperation between the Metro Nashville Police Department and the District Attorney’s Vehicular Crimes Unit in the conviction. Both agencies say the crackdown on illegal street racing and gatherings that threaten public safety will continue.
Demetriona Harper was found guilty by a Davidson County jury Friday, November 17th, 2023, on two felony counts, including Rape of Child. The charges stem from October, 2019, when Harper was accused of raping a 12-year-old boy while she was babysitting him at The Retreat Apartments in Goodlettsville. According to an arrest affidavit, Harper admitted she had sexual intercourse with the boy in his bedroom, and later admitted “she had let things go too far and made a mistake.”
The jury trial lasted for a full week in Criminal Court Division IV. Nashville Assistant District Attorney Chantley Frazier prosecuted the case, along with District Attorney Glenn Funk. It took the jury only four hours to return with guilty verdicts on all three counts: Rape of a Child (a Class A Felony), Aggravated Sexual Battery (a Class B Felony), and Misdemeanor Assault (a Class A Misdemeanor). Sentencing for Harper will be January 25, 2024.
Demetriona Harper – MNPD photo
STATEMENT FROM NASHVILLE DISTRICT ATTORNEY GLENN FUNK
Regarding the tragic shooting of Belmont University student Jillian Ludwig on November 7, 2023 –
On April 13, 2023, the Nashville District Attorney’s Office prosecuted Shaquille Taylor for Aggravated Assault with a deadly weapon.
At a competency hearing on that date, three court appointed doctors unanimously testified that Mr. Taylor was incompetent to stand trial. State and Federal law prohibit prosecution of persons found to be incompetent, so therefore Judge Angelita Dalton was mandated to dismiss the case. Because the doctors did not find Mr. Taylor met the standards for involuntary commitment, he was released from custody on May 19, 2023.
Under Tennessee law, for a person to be involuntarily committed to a mental health facility, at least two doctors must have executed certificates that the person is suffering from a severe mental illness or developmental disability that causes the person to be a substantial risk of serious harm to himself or others. The doctors must also find that there are no other less restrictive measures than commitment.
This nearly impossible standard impacts public safety. The law must be altered to accurately balance individual needs with public safety. At the same time Tennessee must provide more beds and staffing resources to handle dangerous individuals.
I will continue to work with the Legislature on these serious mental health issues.
The Nashville District Attorney’s office welcomes two additional staff attorneys. Eli Cheely is a graduate of the University of Georgia and went on to attend the University of Mississippi Law School. Mr. Cheely interned in the District Attorney’s office last summer, and was well-respected by his peers within the office. He is now working in our General Sessions division, awaiting the results of his bar exam. Mr. Kevin Kennedy also joins our office as Staff Attorney, awaiting the results of his bar exam as well. Mr. Kennedy is a graduate of Vanderbilt Law School after spending time as a teacher in the Metropolitan Nashville Public School System. Mr. Kennedy is currently assisting in our Domestic Violence division. We welcome both of these fine attorneys to our staff.
April, 2023 – A Davidson County jury found Juwan Jaheim Gaines guilty on all three counts for a 2020 shooting at Opry Mills Mall that sent shoppers scrambling. It took the Criminal Court Division IV jury just 40 minutes to find Gaines (who was 19 years old at the time of the shooting) guilty of Attempted First Degree Murder, Employment of a Firearm during the Commission of a Dangerous Felony, and Reckless Endangerment. Witnesses stated that Gaines was walking with another group of men when he pulled his gun and began shooting. Then 19-year-old Michael Pignone was hit, but has since recovered. Sentencing for Gaines is set for early June.
With the beginning of a new year, Nashville/ Davidson County District Attorney General Glenn Funk sat down with News 2 to talk about fighting crime in 2023.
A big part of that fight is urging Nashvillians to be responsible gun owners.
Last year, MNPD reported a record number of guns stolen out of vehicles. The majority of them were taken from cars that were left unlocked.
“Part of the problem that we see is that a responsible gun owner does not leave their gun in their car,” said Funk. “If you have a gun in the car, it’s much more likely to get stolen. That’s how we’re seeing a lot of guns end up in the hands of juveniles, and somebody who’s not even 18 years old yet does not appreciate the sanctity of life or the permeance of death and that’s just a really bad mixture.”
The latest release from MNPD revealed 1,353 guns had been stolen from vehicles in Nashville in 2022. More than 70% of them were taken from vehicles. Police also note that vehicle burglaries go “hand-in-hand” with vehicle theft.
“I’m really trying to work hard to get the message out and so is the chief to be safe when it comes to how you store your weapons,” Funk said.
Metro Police Chief John Drake and his officers have been advocating responsible gun ownership for months. General Funk is optimistic that the partnership between Metro Police and the DA’s office, along with a renewed awareness about safe gun ownership, will lead to fewer gun crimes in the new year.