Woman pleads guilty in Fayette County court to 2013 killing of cab driver

On Oct. 9, defendant Tanuja Lawtrice Rivers, 21, pleaded guilty in Fayette County Circuit Court to second degree murder, especially aggravated robbery and filing a false report to law enforcement resulting from the 2013 stabbing death of Zewdneh Assemu in the Braden Road area of Fayette County.
Rivers was charged after the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation determined that on Dec. 6, 2013, Assemu, a taxi cab driver for Metro/Advantage Taxi Company in Memphis, was reported missing.
GPS tracking led law enforcement to the Braden neighborhood of Fayette County, where he was found deceased near his abandoned minivan taxi.
During the investigation, Rivers ultimately admitted that she called Assemu for taxi service in Oakland, and also admitted to then later stabbing, beating and robbing Assemu of cash, a cell phone and his Bank of America debit card.
Pursuant to the negotiated plea agreement that was approved by the victim’s family, Rivers received a sentence of 25 years at 100 percent for the second degree murder conviction; consecutive to a sentence of 15 years at 100 percent for the especially aggravated robbery conviction; and a concurrent sentence of three years at 30 percent for the false report conviction, for a total effective sentence of 40 years at 100 percent in the Tennessee Department of Correction.
“Rivers has been held accountable for her violent criminal behavior, and we are thankful to achieve justice for Zewdneh Assemu and his family in this disturbing case,” said 25th Judicial District Attorney Mike Dunavant.
Assemu came to Memphis in 2009, taking a job as a driver with MetroCab.
He was the father of two daughters.