Suspect in Lark murder could face death penalty

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 9, 2012

By Shavonne Potts
SALISBURY — A man accused of beating his ex-girlfriend to death with a baseball bat inside her East Spencer home could face the death penalty if convicted.
Gary Cureton remains in the Rowan County jail without bond charged with first-degree murder in the January slaying of 49-year-old Joan Lark.
Prosecutors with the Rowan County District Attorney’s Office said at a hearing this week they intend to seek the death penalty.
Cureton, 54, was charged hours after Lark was found dead in her bedroom by a grandchild while other grandchildren slept upstairs.
Authorities found Cureton at a Kannapolis house wearing Lark’s jacket. He had her jewelry in his pockets and dried blood on his clothes, authorities said.
The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office charged Cureton with murder, felony first-degree burglary and felony robbery with a dangerous weapon.
In January, Cassandra Woodson, Lark’s daughter, told a Post reporter that Lark had kicked Cureton out of her home on New Year’s Day. Woodson said she believed Cureton used a key he still had to get into the house.
Kerry Wooden, Lark’s boyfriend and a co-worker at the Hefner VA Medical Center, told the Post he believed the murder weapon was a bat Lark kept by her bed for protection.
Authorities haven’t said how they believe Cureton got into the house or confirmed the murder weapon was Lark’s bat.
Six of Woodson’s 10 children lived with Lark at her West Spencer Street home.
In 1999, Cureton was convicted of domestic criminal trespass and assault on a female, both misdemeanors. In 2000, was again convicted of misdemeanor domestic criminal trespass. In 2007, he was convicted of misdemeanor communicating threats.
This is the first murder case in which Rowan District Attorney Brandy Cook has pursued the death penalty since her 2010 election.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.