Tonya Thomas' son was murdered on Feb. 19, 2018, so her grief is fresh. Month after month, I have watched her shed many tears over the death of her son and the lack of justice in his case.
Marquice Miles was born on Aug. 18, 1992, meaning he lived a mere 25 years. Tonya describes him as a good kid who loved to dance, always doing his own thing. He had a stutter that was most noticeable when he was mad. He was a graduate of the 4:13 Strong program offered in Nashville for at-risk men, where he received work training and placement at a construction job. Tonya recalls Marquice being baptized at church on her birthday and singing in the choir. Little brother Darius looked up to Marquice and, although they often fought, they were always sure to make up. Tonya smiled remembering Marquice "talking in his sleep and grinding his teeth like his dad." He loved to shop, especially for shoes. Keeping only a couple close friends, Marquice was happy in life. And his granny thought he could do no wrong.
Tonya's son was a giving person, and often brought her gifts. She received a Pandora bracelet from him one Mother's Day, and this year she wore it though difficult for her. She hasn't found the strength to go through his material things. Marquice's work shoes and helmet still lay on the floor. Tonya recently started putting together what will go on his gravestone, picking the perfect photos to add. “The look on his face just makes me strong,” she says of one picture hanging in her bedroom.
Marquice was the father of three children (Kemorian, Ahmyia and Syimone) and they were his world. He’d pick them up from school whenever he could. He was recognized as a top parent for showing so much interest in their grades, homework and overall well-being. Marquice treated his young daughters like little princesses. On Valentine's Day each year, he would eat lunch with them and bring them chocolates. That was also his custom on rainy days, when he didn’t have to report to work at the construction site.
In a sad turn of events, Marquice was fatally shot by his cousin's boyfriend, which has caused much upheaval within the family. It's important to share that this happened while Marquice was trying to protect his children from a registered sex offender living in the home with their mother. Though there were witnesses and the identity of the shooter is unquestionable, no arrest has been made. Police were given the license plate number of the getaway car, which was confiscated along with the cell phones of those involved, and eventually returned. With a sullen look Tonya adds, "He (Marquice) was just a loving guy with a good heart."