Memphis, TN – Demetrius Lay, 41, has been sentenced to 120 months in federal prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm, possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. D. Michael Dunavant, U.S. Attorney announced the sentence today.
According to information presented in court, on July 24, 2018, officers with the Memphis Police Department performed a traffic stop on Faxon Street. The driver, Demetrius Lay, pulled into the driveway of a residence near that location. When officers approached, Lay fled the vehicle and threw a rifle over a fence and into an adjacent yard. Officers recovered the rifle, and a large plastic bag next to the rifle. The rifle was reported stolen on July 5, 2018. Inside the plastic bag were three smaller plastic bags all containing a white rock-like substance suspected to be crack cocaine. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation forensic laboratory tested the narcotics and determined the defendant possessed over 28 grams of cocaine.
Lay is a prohibited person with a prior felony conviction history that includes voluntary manslaughter, possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. As a result, he is prohibited by federal law from the possession of firearms or ammunition.
On December 13, 2018, Lay was indicted for one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, one count of possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute, and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. On July 23, 2020, Lay pled guilty as charged in the indictment.
On October 27, 2020, U.S. District Court Judge Mark S. Norris sentenced the defendant to 120 months in federal prison followed by four years supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.
U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant said, “This offender presented a triple threat of serious bodily injury and death: a prior violent convicted felon in possession of a stolen firearm while distributing a deadly and addictive substance on the streets. This sentence protects the community by incapacitating a repeat dangerous offender, and achieves justice by providing proper punishment according to law.”
The Memphis Police Department and Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Task Force investigated this case. The PSN initiative is a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. In 2017, PSN was reinvigorated as part of the Justice Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally based strategies to reduce violent crime.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Wendy K. Cornejo prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.