#JusticeForElijah: People outraged after man who allegedly killed teen for playing rap music uses mental illness as defense

Kerry Justich
#JusticeForElijah is trending on Twitter after the 17-year-old was allegedly murdered by 27-year-old Michael Adams. (Photo: Peoria Police Department)
#JusticeForElijah is trending on Twitter after the 17-year-old was allegedly murdered by 27-year-old Michael Adams. (Photo: Peoria Police Department)

Thousands of people on Twitter are calling for #JusticeForElijah after 17-year-old Elijah Al-Amin was allegedly murdered for listening to rap music.

Michael Adams, 27, was charged with the first-degree murder of Elijah after allegedly slitting the teen’s throat in a Peoria, Ariz., Circle K store at around 1:45am on Thursday.

According to court documents obtained by AZ Central, Adams told police that he killed Elijah because the teen was listening to rap music. Adams admitted that the boy did nothing to provoke the attack nor did he threaten Adams, but the suspect said he wanted to be “proactive rather than reactive,” saying that people who listen to rap music are a threat to him and the community.

According to records from the Arizona Department of Corrections, Adams was released from the Arizona State Prison Complex in Yuma, where he served a 13-month sentence for aggravated assault, just two days before the recent attack. His criminal history also includes theft, marijuana violation and assault with a weapon. Once the murder charges were brought forward, however, Adams’s lawyer, Jacie Cotterell, said that he was “set up for failure.”

Fox 10 reports that, during a court appearance, Cotterell said that Adams suffers from a mental illness and does not belong in jail.

“They released him to the streets with no medication, no meds, with no way to care for himself,” she said. “It's too easy as a society to shake our head and say well, they committed a crime, it's too bad, we have jails for that, when really, what they need is treatment. They need a bed instead of a cell.”

Now, people are taking to Twitter to share their opposition to Cotterell’s defense and to demand that justice be served for Elijah amid what most are calling an act of racism.

Others railed against the issue of bringing mental illness to light only when it comes as a defense of violent crimes.

A spokesperson for the Arizona Department of Corrections told AZ Central that Adams “was not designated seriously mentally ill.” As of Monday, the suspect is being held in a Maricopa County jail on a $1 million bond and is scheduled for a preliminary hearing in court on July 15.

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