For Immediate Release
Young Offender Pleads Guilty to Multiple Armed Carjackings
Memphis, TN – Isaiah Miller, 19, has pleaded guilty to multiple counts of carjacking and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant announced the guilty plea today.
According to information presented in court, on October 10, 2018, at about 9:45 p.m., victims Thomas Jones and Justin Hipner were walking to their vehicle on South Cooper Street in Memphis, Tennessee, four very young black males approached them. One suspect pointed a small black handgun and demanded their property. The suspect told them to "lie on the ground facedown." As Jones attempted to get down, one of the suspects punched him twice in the left jaw. The suspects took the victims’ wallets, cell phones, and the keys to Jones’ vehicle. They left in the 2013 Mazda headed northbound on Cooper. After notifying law enforcement about the crime, Jones positively identified Miller as one of the individuals who carjacked him. Jones said "Miller was the man who hit him in the face and told another man to shoot him."
On October 11, 2018, at around 10:19 p.m., victim Lequita Christian was sitting in her silver Honda Civic charging her phone. She saw a group of five black males approach her, point a gun at her, and demand that she get out of the vehicle. Christian exited the vehicle and one of the men snatched her cell phone from her hand. She asked if she could keep her purse from the car, and one man responded, "Hell naw." The males got into the Honda Civic and were last seen going west on Mynders Avenue. Christian positively identified Miller as the person responsible for the carjacking who brandished the weapon. Fingerprints belonging to Miller were found on the hood and passenger side rear door glass of the recovered vehicle.
On October 13, 2018, victim Jhony Arenales was pulling into the driveway of his girlfriend Luci Rodriguez’s house on Venable Avenue. Another vehicle blocked in their vehicle. Three black males approached and demanded he exit the vehicle. The two men
on the driver’s side of the vehicle both had firearms, one black and one silver. One of the suspects then pistol whipped Arenales and pulled him out of the vehicle. The armed male then pointed the gun at Rodriguez and told her to get out of the vehicle. They took a phone and a gold ring from the victims. They then drove away from the scene in the Arenales’s Honda Accord. Rodriguez positively identified Miller as the person who pulled her out of the vehicle.
On October 17, 2018, at approximately 5:45 p.m., victim Darryl Elefan was walking at Walker Avenue and Tanglewood toward his car after visiting friends. Elefan was approached by three black males armed with firearms who demanded that he give them his car keys, wallet, and cash. Elefan initially did not comply, so one of the suspects hit him in the face and head with the firearm. Elefan then gave the suspects his wallet and ran. The suspects were unable to find Elefan’s keys in his wallet so they fled from the scene. Elefan positively identified Miller from a photo lineup as the suspect who demanded his keys and struck him in the face with the pistol.
On Friday, October 19, 2018, Mt. Moriah task force officers were on enhanced patrol looking for a silver Honda Civic that had been seen driving recklessly through the area of South Perkins and Cottonwood. Law enforcement observed a silver Honda matching the description in the area and attempted to pull it over, but the driver refused to stop. Officers chased the vehicle to the Cedar Mills apartment complex, when all four males jumped out of the car and ran in different directions. Miller was apprehended after jumping from a balcony. Ultimately, Miller gave a statement to the police, admitting to at least one of the carjackings.
Sentencing is scheduled for May 21, 2020, before U.S. District Court Judge Thomas L. Parker. Miller faces up to 15 years in federal prison followed by 3 years supervised release for each of the four carjackings. He faces mandatory minimum consecutive sentences of 7 years and up to life imprisonment for each of the firearm offenses.
U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant said, "In the short period of just one week, this young offender not only injured and terrorized multiple victims, but he also senselessly wasted his own life by committing successive violent gun crimes. There is a heavy price to pay for such violence and lawlessness, and Miller will now pay that price with decades in a federal prison. This case demonstrates our ability and intention to aggressively prosecute violent carjackings, no matter the age of the offender. Hopefully, it will also send a strong deterrent message to others to avoid throwing their lives away by senseless gun violence."
The Memphis Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) investigated this case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Rogers and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Samuel D. Winnig are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government. Winnig is currently assigned from the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office for the purpose of prosecuting violent crimes and firearms offenses in federal court.