• 72°

Man pleads guilty to 2012 murder; gets life in prison

Cureton and Lark

Gary Cureton

Gary Cureton

Joan Lark

Joan Lark

A man who killed his ex-girlfriend in 2012 pleaded guilty to murder Friday at the Rowan County Courthouse.

Gary Cureton, 57, pleaded guilty to the killing of Joan Lark in January 2012. Lark was 49 when she died and lived in East Spencer.

Cureton, who lived with Lark before she made him move out around the beginning of 2012, beat her to death with a baseball bat in her home late one night.

Lark’s body was discovered the next morning by her six grandchildren, who she cared for.

That same day, police found Cureton still covered in blood and wearing Lark’s jacket.

Cureton also pleaded guilty to first degree burglary and robbery with a dangerous weapon in connection to the murder. His plea deal means he will spend the rest of his life in prison without the chance of parole.

A main reason for the plea deal seemed to be to keep Lark’s grandchildren from having to testify at a trial.

Relatives of Lark, who worked at the Salisbury VA Hospital, spoke Friday at Cureton’s hearing.

Her mother, Kathleen Chambers, said every night she hears her daughter calling out to her for help.

“It hurt us so bad,” she said about her daughter’s death. But she told Cureton she does not hate him.

“I wish I could, but I can’t,” she said.

Joan, who was called “Joanie,” was one of Chambers’ two daughters.

Joan’s sister, Rosetta Chambers Miller, said Joan would do anything for anybody.

“She is still in my heart,” Miller said.

Lark’s daughter, Brandi Lark, spoke briefly before she was overcome with emotion. She also told Cureton she does not hate him.

Cureton made numerous threats to Joan Lark, many over the phone that she recorded, in the weeks leading up to her murder. District Attorney Brandy Cook read aloud some of the threats at the hearing, but Lark never got a restraining order against Cureton and told friends and family she did not think he would ever hurt her.

Cureton has had a long history of mental and physical health problems and was high on crack at the time of the murder, his attorney told the court.

Relatives of Cureton sat quietly during the hearing. Some of them began to cry when the judge gave the official sentencing.

Miller said the she just wants the ordeal to be over with and that the family “will get through this.”

“I will see my sister again,” she said.

Contact Reporter David Purtell at 704-797-4264.

 

Comments

News

Forest abandons lawsuit challenging Cooper executive orders

Education

Salisbury-Rowan NAACP hosts virtual town hall with superintendent

Nation/World

Crews try to tame California wildfire as heat wave arrives

Coronavirus

Nursing home outbreak first reported last week sees first COVID-19 death

Coronavirus

1,400 face masks given out at county’s drive-thru giveaway

Crime

Blotter: August 14

Business

With more than 1,500 patrons in two weeks, High Rock Lake restaurant gets off to hot start

Business

State awards $584,100 grant to Three Rivers Land Trust for farmland preservation in Cabarrus County

Crime

Teen faces laundry list of charges after string of larcenies

Crime

Salisbury man faces charges after trying to retrieve phone from police

Crime

Police: Father hospitalized after being shot in argument with son

Education

RSS teachers adapting classrooms to the pandemic

Education

Shoutouts

Coronavirus

County launches paramedic program for those recovering COVID-19

Education

Cooper directs $95.6 million for students affected by COVID-19

Education

RCCC named school on the rise

Local

Conversations get started on planning for diversity mural, street painting

Education

Rowan-Salisbury Schools welcomes new teachers

Education

Study highlights need to improve food environments around NC’s HBCUs

Coronavirus

County reports new COVID-19 death outside of nursing home

Crime

Man robbed at gunpoint at South Main Street gas station

Business

Embracing the outdoors: downtown restaurants, coffee shops work to expand outdoor seating

Local

Spencer man killed after being knocked into ditch by vehicle on Old Concord Road

Local

Activists talk tear gas ban, renaming police officers, Confederate streets during mock council meeting