BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. (FOX 9) - One year ago, Zaria McKeever was murdered in Brooklyn Park. Since her tragic death, her family has been ardently fighting for justice and urging more people to join their cause.
Zaria McKeever, who was 23 years old, is being remembered across the country Wednesday. Family and friends living in various states are releasing balloons simultaneously in her honor, a gesture that is sure to evoke a surge of emotions as they remember the woman they dearly miss.
It has been one year since the horrific murder of Zaria McKeever, a date now marked with new t-shirts honoring the late 23-year-old.
"And just getting her picture on the shirt it makes it really real, but it's hurtful," said Tiffynnie Epps, Zaria McKeever’s sister.
"She knows exactly who her mom is, but she just doesn’t get that she’s not coming back, you know," Epps explained.
The year has been filled with much more than grief for McKeever's family. Shortly after the murder, they fought for justice in a way no one ever had, urging the attorney general to take over the prosecution. This effort was in response to a Hennepin County plea deal that would have given the triggerman, only 15 at the time, less than two years in juvenile prison. Zaria’s sister, Tiffynnie, led the battle and won.
"It made me more determined to seek help and seek another route because I just couldn’t go for that I just couldn’t settle for," Epps stated.
One plea deal did go through, giving the young teen’s older brother a sentence of 24 months or less for his involvement. The family acknowledges there’s still a long road ahead. Despite the significant progress in their fight for justice, Tiffynnie admits the path forward is far from easy.
"It’s going to be painful again everything relived again, actual visuals I’m sure, so it’s going to be a lot, but it’s something we have to do to get to the point we need to be at," she said.
The Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting the 15-year-old's case, with a judge set to decide in February if he will be tried as an adult. The McKeever family is bracing for a challenging few months in the new year as they continue their pursuit of justice.