Aunt of victim faces Rock Hill murder suspect in court
A 19-year-old convicted felon only recently released from prison has been charged with murder after allegedly shooting Latoya Cureton of Rock Hill three times in the back in August.
Robert Daquan Johnson, 19, whom police said in January 2014 was affiliated with gang members when he was arrested in a city-wide gang sweep, turned himself in late Tuesday. In court Wednesday for a bond hearing, he said nothing about the allegations that he shot Cureton, 27, and left her dead behind an empty building on Green Street, just three blocks south of Rock Hill’s City Hall.
“I want to hire my own lawyer,” Johnson told Judge Jane Modla.
Modla denied Johnson bond on charges of murder, using a weapon in a crime and possession of a pistol by a prohibited person.
Court records show Johnson was arrested Sept. 7 in Rock Hill on a gun charge, but, despite being a convicted felon on weapons and other charges, was released on a $10,000 bond. That charge came a month after Cureton was shot and left dead behind an empty former convenience store on Green Street Aug. 5.
Many members of Cureton’s family, outraged since the killing, were in court Wednesday to see Johnson for the first time.
Liz McKnight, Cureton’s aunt, demanded that Johnson look at the distraught family crying in the court gallery.
“You have destroyed our family,” Liz McKnight told Johnson. “You didn’t have to do what you did.”
McKnight said Johnson “is just a child” but added, “I hope you pay for what you did.”
Police asked for the public’s help after the killing yet have not said what evidence led to Johnson’s arrest or what the motive was. Arrest warrants show evidence recovered at the scene, witness statements and more were factors in charging Johnson.
The warrants charging Johnson in the slaying were issued Oct. 20, but Johnson was not arrested until Tuesday when he turned himself in after he and family members contacted police about Johnson “needing to take care of the warrant for his arrest,” a police report shows.
In January 2014, Johnson was one of a dozen young men police said at the time were affiliated with gangs who were arrested in a city-wide sweep. Johnson was sentenced to five years as a youthful offender after pleading guilty to conspiracy and weapons charges in two shooting incidents.
Johnson is not listed as a current gang member, said Mark Bollinger, spokesman for the Rock Hill Police Department.
He was released March 13 and was on parole, called “intensive supervision” for youthful offenders, a spokesman for the S.C. Department of Corrections said.
Police arrested Johnson on Sept. 7 on a gun charge and again Sept. 30 on a warrant from state officials for an alleged violation of parole, Bollinger said.
Randy Cureton, Latoya Cureton’s uncle, said he hoped young men who are involved in the street life seek out help, or male mentors, before crimes like this happen to anyone else.
Andrew Dys: 803-329-4065