Victim: Kyle Justin Yorlets, 24
Alleged murderers: A 16-year-old male, a 15-year-old female, a 14-year-old female, a 13-year-old male, and a 12-year-old female
Crime date: February 7, 2019
Crime location: Nashville, TN
Alleged crimes: Robbery & murder
Weapon: 9 mm handgun
Murder method: Gunshot to the arm and chest
Kyle is believed to have been robbed and shot by a group of five juveniles, ages 12-16. It is believed that the 16-year-old fired the fatal shot after Kyle declined to give up his car keys. Kyle, a Belmont University graduate and musician, died later at a hospital. The suspects were apprehended and the 15 and 16-year-olds were indicted by grand juries and charged as adults. The 16-year-old escaped juvenile detention but was later caught.
The details are not entirely clear, as the case has yet to go to trial. Investigators believe the suspects were in a stolen Chevy pickup truck when they spotted Kyle and decided to rob him. The 15-year-old is believed to have orchestrated the crime while the 16-year-old is believed to have fatally shot Kyle.
According to the 15-year-old, she approached Kyle first and asked for money. When Kyle declined to give her any she pulled out a gun and again demanded money. After being threatened with the firearm, Kyle gave the gang his money. The 15-year-old further claims that she went back to the car and then the 16-year-old male grabbed the gun from her. The 15-year-old says she witnessed the 16-year-old go back to where Kyle was and then heard two gunshots. The 16-year-old is believed to have fired the deadly shot after Kyle refused to give him his car keys. Kyle’s autopsy showed that the bullet went through his arm, exited, and then entered his chest. After being shot, Kyle managed to make it back into his house where he was found by a roommate. He was taken to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center where he later died.
We also can get a sense of what happened to Kyle from several of his neighbors, who witnessed his murder. Two neighbors describe seeing a group of teenagers hanging around in an alley behind their homes. A male neighbor saw the juveniles, one of whom had a gun, walk up to Kyle’s house. He then says he heard shots and saw the group running away. A female neighbor claims to have seen the group fleeing. She has identified the 16-year-old in a photo lineup as being the assailant with the gun.
The suspects were later arrested at a Walmart. The 16-year-old was recorded in the back of a patrol car telling the 15-year-old that the two were “going down for murder – 10 to 15 years.” He is also heard saying “I got him through the arm.”
Police seized two 9mm handguns, both of which were stolen from unlocked cars. The 16-year-old ultimately admitted to police that the gun used to murder Kyle was tossed inside the Walmart they were arrested in. A Walmart employee found it hidden underneath dog food. The 15-year-old is alleged to have placed the other loaded gun in the passenger side floor of the patrol car after being arrested.
In addition to allegedly stealing guns and shooting Kyle, the suspects are believed to have committed other crimes. Several hours prior to Kyle’s murder, the suspects, one of whom was armed with a gun, were seen on video surveillance chasing another juvenile. One suspect was filmed firing shots at a public housing development. The 12-year-old admitted to police that she was with the group when they stole a vehicle a few hours prior to Kyle’s death. The truck was later recovered.
The criminal proceedings are on-going and there is much to come. All five suspects have been caught. The 15 and 16-year-olds were indicted by a Grand Jury in August 2019. The 15-year-old was indicted on eight charges while the 16-year-old faces 11 charges. February 2020 it was determined that the two would be tried as adults. After this decision, the Yorlets family released the following statement on the Justice for Kyle Yorlets FaceBook page.
Finally the news we have been waiting for — we just received notification from the DA’s office in Nashville. Both suspects Wright and Lewis have been transferred to adult court to be tried for Kyle’s murder. Justice will be served!
The 16 and 15-year-olds were arraigned on July 8, 2020.
During their pre-trial incarceration, the suspects in Kyle’s murder have been continuing to behave violently. The 16-year-old was written up 34 times between February and July 2019. In one incident, he and several others allegedly surrounded a staff member and intimidated him into giving over his key fob. On February 20, 2019, he reportedly threatened an officer, saying, “I’m gonna get you when I get out of this cell.” According to the director of the Davidson County Juvenile Detention Center, on April 1, 2019, the suspect told an officer, “I’m gonna smack the f*** out of you, you b***.” The next day, the director says the suspect assaulted a staff member after being told to get off the phone. According to a report, on May 21, the suspect helped his peers attempt to assault a shift supervisor. In a July 2019 assessment report, the alleged murderer said he was unchanged and did not see anything wrong with his actions. The suspect has also reportedly kicked his cell door and flooded his cell several times and has been involved in gang fighting and riots. In December 2019 he and three other inmates escaped the Juvenile Justice Center. He was later recaptured.
During a January 2020 transfer hearing, prosecutors listed 28 times the 15-year-old female was written up during her time in a juvenile detention center over the last year. Her behavior reportedly includes throwing a tray in a window in the cafeteria, gang fighting, and making a shank. The 13-year-old suspect had 41 write-ups from February to July 2019. His reported actions include failing to comply, being disrespectful to staff, horseplay, intimidating behavior, use of profanity, stealing food, fighting, writing graffiti on the walls, writing gang signs on his shoes, and attempting to escape his cell. One surveillance video shows him pretending to punch a staff member and then going around him to smash a radio on the ground. He also reportedly hit another detainee with a pencil and another with a Connect Four board for no apparent reason. The 12-year-old suspect was written up 18 times between February and July 2019 for acts such as gang fighting and stealing from staff.
Written by an NOVJM volunteer.