Memphis jogger murder suspect’s brother Mario Abston returns to court

Eliza Fletcher's kidnapping prompted Memphis police to search Mario Abston's home after his brother was seen cleaning his car outside

Mario Abston, the brother of Memphis murder suspect Cleotha Henderson, returned to court Thursday with a new private lawyer after the public defender's office said it had a conflict of interest representing both brothers at the same time in separate cases.

Abston's new attorney, Jason Matthews, declined to comment when reached by phone after the hearing. Abston, who has not entered a plea, is due back in court on Sept. 22.

Memphis police arrested Abston earlier this month after searching his home in connection with the abduction and murder of Eliza Fletcher, a 34-year-old teacher who police say Henderson abducted from her morning jog on Sept. 2 on Central Avenue in front of the University of Memphis.

Henderson allegedly showed up at his brother’s apartment hours after the abduction with cleaning chemicals and was seen outside scrubbing out a GMC Terrain SUV, prompting police to search the home.

ELIZA FLETCHER KIDNAPPING: TIMELINE OF THE MEMPHIS TEACHER'S ABDUCTION, MURDER

Images captured exclusively by Fox News Digital show Mario Abston, the brother of accused kidnapper and killer Cleotha Henderson, in court on Sept. 8, 2022.

Images captured exclusively by Fox News Digital show Mario Abston, the brother of accused kidnapper and killer Cleotha Henderson, in court on Sept. 8, 2022. (Matt Symons for Fox News Digital)

Abston and another witness told police they saw Henderson washing his car with "floor cleaner" and that he had gone inside and done laundry in his brother’s sink.

Abston’s charges of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and two counts of possession of a controlled substance with the intent to manufacture, deliver or sell heroin and fentanyl, have no direct connection to Fletcher’s death.

WHO IS ELIZA FLETCHER? MEMPHIS TEACHER ABDUCTED DURING MORNING JOG

Investigators conducted a search warrant at Abston’s home and said they had recovered a loaded handgun, a drug scale, 2.3 grams of heroin and a whopping 27 grams of fentanyl, according to the arrest affidavit.

Photo released by Canale Funeral Directors shows Eliza Fletcher, her husband and her children

Photo released by Canale Funeral Directors shows Eliza Fletcher, her husband and her children (Canale Funeral Directors)

ELIZA FLETCHER'S SUSPECTED KILLER CLEOTHA HENDERSON SERVED 20 YEARS OF A 24-YEAR SENTENCE, HERE'S WHY

Abston was convicted of possession of a prohibited weapon on June 26, 2007, after police said they had encountered him hiding a sawed-off shotgun on his porch. Fox News Digital learned that in 2017, he was also charged with domestic violence for allegedly punching a girlfriend in the face as she sat in her car, but the case was dropped due to lack of evidence even though police photographed her injuries.

Murder suspect Cleotha Henderson appears in court at Shelby County Criminal Justice Center in Memphis, Tennessee, Wednesday, September 7, 2022. Henderson is charged with the murder of Memphis mother-of-two Eliza Fletcher. He is represented by appointed council, Jennifer Case. He has been ordered held without bond by Judge Louis Montesi.

Murder suspect Cleotha Henderson appears in court at Shelby County Criminal Justice Center in Memphis, Tennessee, Wednesday, September 7, 2022. Henderson is charged with the murder of Memphis mother-of-two Eliza Fletcher. He is represented by appointed council, Jennifer Case. He has been ordered held without bond by Judge Louis Montesi. (Matt Symons for Fox News Digital)

He also had a slew of other drug-dealing charges. In one case, a convenience store owner called police on him for loitering, and he was accused of dealing outside.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Abston was being held on $45,000 bond. His arraignment last week was continued to Thursday after the public defender’s office asked the judge for permission to withdraw, citing a conflict of interest, because it is also representing Henderson in connection with Fletcher’s slaying and other charges.

Henderson was also due in court Thursday morning on charges that he committed another kidnapping and a rape in September 2021.