Louisiana mom earns criminal justice degree, hoping to solve daughter’s murder

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LAKE CHARLES, La. — The 2016 death of LaShuntae Benton is a tragedy her mother, Theresa Tillman, has to live through every day.

And no one has been charged with her death all these years later, KPLC reports.

“This is a daily struggle,” the Louisiana mother said. “Every day, I struggle from the loss of my child.”

It’s a memory no parent should have to remember.

On April 10, 2016, Benton was shot and killed at a social gathering in the crossfire of two shooters in Baton Rouge.

Tillman is devoted to finding justice.

“What keeps me going is my kids and my family and the memory of my daughter,” she said, “because I know my daughter left a legacy behind, and I have to fulfill it, even through the pain”

This week, Tillman graduated with honors at Sowela Technical Community College with an associate degree in criminal justice — all for her daughter.

“As a parent, you never give up on your children, and you strive to get your kids in college,” Tillman said. “You hoping that they succeed and get a degree. You hope that they would be who you raised them to be. And my daughter was on that path to do that, and her life was cut short violently for no reason.”

Though Benton’s absence was felt, Tillman said her family was there to cheer her on.

Terence Thompson said he’s proud of what his mom accomplished.

“She’s a great example and a perfect role model that you can do anything you put your mind to no matter what life throws at you, and got me wanting to go to college,” he said.

The milestone is one of many Tillman has to conquer before working for law enforcement. Her next step is a bachelor’s degree.

But before she gets there, she wants police to give it their all.

“Give it the best that you’ve got, that’s all I want them to do,” she said. “I’m gonna work for law enforcement somewhere, but even if I have to do my child’s case on my own, I’m going to do that and that’s what I’m seeking to do.”

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