Jury Finds Cleotha Abston Guilty For 2021 Rape After A Grueling Trial Spanning 3 Days

Cleotha Abston

A Shelby County jury has delivered a guilty verdict against Cleotha Abston in an alleged 2021 rape case.

After a grueling trial spanning three days, the jury, sequestered for deliberation, took about seven hours over two days before reaching their decision.

The trial, which involved limited physical evidence and no witnesses aside from the accuser, concluded on Friday with the jury finding Abston guilty of aggravated rape and convicted felon in possession of a handgun.

The charges stemmed from an incident involving Alicia Franklin, who accused Abston of raping her at gunpoint.

“We are extremely satisfied by the verdict,” stated Shelby County Deputy District Attorney Paul Hagerman outside the courtroom. “It took a lot of courage for Alicia to come into the courtroom and tell her truth, face all those questions and accusations, but the jury saw the truth and did what was right.”

During the trial, the prosecution highlighted Franklin’s testimony, pointing to her bravery in facing the accused and recounting the traumatic experience.

The defense, led by Juni Ganguli, attempted to portray the incident as attempted prostitution, citing a lack of physical injuries on Franklin as indicative of consensual sex.

Franklin testified that she had met Abston on a dating app and intended to discuss payment for her time, but Abston immediately pulled a gun on her upon arrival at his apartment.

Despite efforts to discredit her testimony, the jury ultimately found Abston guilty based on the evidence presented.

Abston, who is also accused of kidnapping and killing Memphis school teacher Eliza Fletcher, is expected to face trial for that case later this year.

The verdict brings closure to Franklin’s ordeal, though she continues to grapple with the trauma of the assault.