Suspect confesses to jeweler’s murder

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The Shelby County District Attorney’s office has announced updates for the following cases.

Mechanic admits robbing, killing jeweler

A Cordova man was sentenced to life in prison plus 10 years for the robbery of a jewelry store and stabbing death of the manager whose baby son was found clinging to his father’s body behind the counter, according to Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich.

Defendant Jesse Slade, 24, was sentenced Friday after pleading guilty to first-degree murder and aggravated robbery before Criminal Court Judge Lee Coffee. Slade’s capital murder trial was scheduled for January.

Investigators said that on Feb. 16, 2017, Slade entered Golden Jewelers in the 6500 block of Winchester in Hickory Hill armed with a handgun and with a bandana over his face. Store video showed Slade taking jewelry from the display case and cash from the register while manager Noah Ashene, 42, held his 20-month-old son after being ordered to kneel down behind by the counter.

Slade, a mechanic who had worked on the victim’s vehicle several times, then stabbed Ashene 15 times times in the neck and back because, he said, he feared Ashene might have recognized him or his voice. Store video showed Ashene shielding his son with his body to protect him from the attack.

Investigators soon developed Slade as a suspect and arrested him four days later with several pieces of jewelry taken in the holdup. Slade was facing a possible death penalty because of aggravating factors that included murder in the perpetration of a robbery, murder to avoid arrest and prosecution, and murder involving circumstances that were heinous, atrocious and cruel.

The case was handled by Chief Prosecutor Alanda Dwyer of the District Attorney’s Special Prosecution Unit in Criminal Court Division 7, which seeks maximum sentencing for repeat felony offenders.

Printers Alley to reopen with conditions

A Midtown bar has been closed as a public nuisance since September because of drug trafficking, illegal liquor sales and other criminal activity. On Thursday, Dec. 19, it was given approval to reopen after agreeing to address problem areas.

Owners of Printers Alley Bar and Grill at 322 S. Cleveland acknowledged the nuisance allegations and agreed to 12 corrective conditions, including hiring a full time security officer, adding surveillance cameras inside and out and accessible to police, performing criminal background checks on employees, and limiting hours of operation to 7 p.m. to 3:15 a.m.

The owners also agreed to prohibit customers from lingering on the premises after 3:30 a.m., to keep the sidewalk outside the bar free of broken bottles, drug paraphernalia and trash, and to terminate any employees involved in nuisance activity before resuming business.

Printers Alley had been the site of at least 61 calls to police regarding drug sales and usage, assaults, burglaries and weapons from 2015 through 2018. The establishment also stayed open for business nearly around the clock.

The bar is less than a half mile from Bellevue Middle School, St. John’s Methodist Church, Central High School, E.H. Crump Stadium, and 1st Class Montessori School. The business also is adjacent to the Broadmoor Apartments.

Printers Alley was closed this summer after the Memphis Police Department Organized Crime Unit made multiple undercover purchases of narcotics and illegal liquor from employees and patrons of Printers Alley over an extended period of time.

Although the bar had no liquor license, customers could purchase whisky by using code words such as “cinnamon” for a shot of Fireball served from a red ketchup bottle or “gravy” for a shot of Jameson served from a yellow mustard bottle.

The bar also sold gummy bear candies soaked in tequila or vodka, officers said.

Owners Anthony McVay and Peter Wofford also agreed to require all employees complete a seminar regarding their duties and responsibilities regarding drug prevention and compliance with state and local laws and regulations. The seminar will be conducted by the District Attorney’s Office and MPD.

The consent order agreement was approved by Environmental Court Referee Lisa Harris on behalf of Judge Patrick Dandridge.

The case is being handled by Assistant District Attorney Paul Hagerman and Assistant City Attorney Will Gibbons.

The parties will return to court Jan. 30 to report on the bar’s compliance with the conditions, which also may include reimbursing MPD for expenses of the investigation.