Couple remembered at vigil

Aug. 14, 2014 @ 09:09 PM

On what would have been Jerron McGirt’s 35th birthday, his family and the community gathered for a vigil for him and his girlfriend, Jessica Liriano, who were both killed at their home  on Cheek Road in Durham on Dec. 16. Liriano’s ex-boyfriend, Michael Teon Brown, has been charged with first-degree murder in their deaths.
The Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham organized the vigil held Thursday evening on the lawn of Shepherds House United Methodist Church on Driver Street. Rabbi Darryl Crystal of Judea Reform Congregation led the gathering in a recitation of Psalm 23.
McGirt’s aunt, Lisa Roberts, described her nephew as a wonderful person who was determined and had a strong spirit.
“He didn’t let life get him down,” Roberts said. He moved beyond his past to become somebody, she said, starting a magazine.
Another aunt, Jean McGirt, talked about how close she became with Jerron and how much she misses him. His grandfather, Robert Taylor, talked about how Jerron told him his plans for the future and Taylor told him to keep it up and that he was doing good.
“The next thing I knew, he was gone,” Taylor said.
“He showed us he was getting down the right road,” Jean McGirt said.
Marcia Owen, who leads the Religious Coalition for Nonviolent Durham, is friends with Jerron McGirt’s father, Joseph Roberts, and remembers the first time she met Jerron.
“He was like a movie star -- he had that light. He was beautiful. It came from inside and outside,” Owen said. “It’s just so sad that he and Jessica, they fell in love, they were happy, and they were taken, presumably and allegedly, out of jealousy. That’s hard for a heart to hold,” she said. Liriano was a mother of three and originally from New York.
McGirt’s dad spoke with emotion at the end of the vigil.
“Jerron was my son, I loved him, I miss him,” Joseph Roberts said. “There’s not a day that goes by I don’t think about him.” He thanked everyone for coming to the vigil.
“He wanted to be loved and do what is right,” Roberts said. “I’m proud of him. God knows, I’m proud of him.”
Jean McGirt said she saw her nephew the day before he died. He came to see her every day and called her “Auntie,” as did Liriano, whom Jean McGirt described as a nice girl. The McGirts would laugh and talk, and he’d make jokes, she said.
“He always had something encouraging to say,” Jean McGirt said. His death hurt her.
“It’s hard to believe,” she said.

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