Mother of shooting victim continues to seek justice for daughter
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - For Theresa Tillman, April 10 will always be the day her 19-year-old daughter was ripped from her life.
"This is not something that any parent can get used to," said Tillman.
Tillman's daughter, Lashuntae Benton, along with her classmate Annette January, were gunned down outside a Baton Rouge apartment a year ago. Investigators said the two Southern University students were innocent bystanders, caught in the crossfire of someone else's fight.
"Parents shouldn't have to bury their children, their children should bury them," Tillman said.
Benton was a Lake Charles native and a sophomore studying sports medicine at Southern University. January was a freshmen track star, attending Southern from Indiana.
"And then to lose my child, sending her to college. Ya know, it's devastating. I mean, it hurts because I sent her for an education and I didn't get her back," Tillman said.
Two men, Brandon Henderson and Ernest Felton were arrested and charged with murder for the shooting, but right now they're not behind bars.
"What state that we're living in that allows two people to have a gunfight and kill two innocent people and nobody gets punished for it?" Tillman said.
The East Baton Rouge District Attorney's office says a complicated crime scene, inconsistent witness reports, and the circumstances of the shooting made it a hard case to prove. The complex case unraveled after a grand jury refused to indict either suspect. That means the prosecution can't move forward.
"My daughter gave up her life for nothing. So, I feel like they deserve to be in jail," Tillman said.
Henderson could face a lesser charge of aggravated assault. However, Felton's case has been pretermitted, or put on hold. The only way Felton can be indicted is if prosecutors find new evidence to present to the grand jury.
Now on the eve of her daughter's death, Tillman only wants to put an end to a very bad dream.
"Not closure for the loss of my child but closure that her killers don't walk free. Because who wants to lose a child and know that they lost them to a certain act and know the people who are involved and they still not get charged with it," Tillman said.
Anyone with any information about the shooting is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (225) 344-7867.
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