Andrew Dys

Family of slain Rock Hill woman to hold second march for justice Saturday

Liz McKnight and William Cureton are the aunt and uncle of murder victim Latoya Cureton, pictured in framed photo. The family is holding a second march for justice Saturday.
Liz McKnight and William Cureton are the aunt and uncle of murder victim Latoya Cureton, pictured in framed photo. The family is holding a second march for justice Saturday. adys@heraldonline.com

The family of Rock Hill slaying victim Latoya Cureton will hold a second march for justice Saturday not just for her, but for all victims of violent crime.

Cureton, 27, was found dead behind a home on Green Street in August. She had been shot several times in the back.

The family plans 27 laps – one for each year of her life, in a quarter-mile circle around Rock Hill’s Friedheim Park. In the nine months since Cureton was killed, her family has emerged as leading advocates for an end to the violence that has rocked the city’s streets. In late September, more than 130 people marched with Cureton’s family to try to stop the violence in Rock Hill.

“We look at this as making this community a better place for all,” said Liz McKnight, Cureton’s aunt. “This walk is for every family that has had to go through what we have gone through – it has been so hard.”

The family has endured not just the pain of the killing, but the roller-coaster of emotions of a case unsolved, then seemingly finished, then reopened. The case went without arrest until October, when Rock Hill police charged Robert Daquan Johnson, 20, with murder. But weeks later, prosecutors dismissed the charge with the right to restore, and directed police to seek more evidence in the case. Last month, federal prosecutors indicted Johnson, a convicted felon barred from having a weapon, on federal gun charges.

So now, the slaying again is officially unsolved. Cureton’s family will hold the march Saturday as it hopes for answers and even has offered a reward leading to a conviction. But for now, the goal is to keep the case active in the minds of the community, and also remind people of other unsolved killings.

“All people are invited to this walk, a walk for hope, a walk for peace, a walk for love,” said William “Q-Rock” Cureton, Latoya Cureton’s uncle and a legendary assistant football coach at Northwestern High School. “If people can walk all 27 laps, great. If they can’t, whatever they can do is what matters. The whole idea is to show that violence affects all people, and we can all work together to try and end it.”

The family has created a nonprofit foundation called the Latoya Danielle Foundation to raise awareness about violent crime. The foundation states: “Our purpose is to support and bring awareness to other families in the community that have lost a loved one due to violence. On Aug 5th, 2015, Latoya's life was taken due to unknown reasons and no other family should have to suffer the way our family has. It is our goal to keep her memory alive by continuing to help and support others while our family continues to seek justice for Latoya.”

The family is going to have T-shirts and wristbands for sale Saturday for the walk that starts at 8:45 a.m. at Friedheim Park, located at 300 Friedheim Road in Rock Hill, not far from the Cureton family home. The walk will circle the park on city streets in quarter-mile laps. Registration starts at 7:45 a.m.

The foundation can be found at latoyadaniellefoundation.com and the event can also be found under Justice for Latoya Walk on Facebook.

That first march in September started a wave of caring to seek not just justice for Latoya Cureton, but for all victims. Organizers hope the second walk and march will continue to be a catalyst for real change, said McKnight, Cureton’s aunt.

“This is the beginning, not an end,” McKnight said. “We can stop these terrible tragedies if we all work together.”

Want to help?

The Justice for Latoya Walk is at 8:45 a.m. Saturday at Friedheim Park, 300 Friedheim Road, Rock Hill. Visit http://latoyadaniellefoundation.com/ for contact information; visit https://www.facebook.com/Community-Networking-Rock-Hill-185648218494919/; or email justicefortoya_27@yahoo.com.

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