Families, friends spread message of peace on anniversary of loved ones' deaths

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ARDMORE, Okla. (KXII)-- Wednesday marked the one-year-anniversary of two men, shot to death in their Ardmore home, and family and friends marked the day by spreading a message.

"Today is a year ago that evil took them." Cissy Sexton, mother of murder victim Aaron Lavers, said.

On May 17, 2016, Lavers and Anthony Rogers were shot to death in their home.

Family and friends had mixed emotions on the first anniversary of their deaths.

"I felt like it happened all over again," Laver's girlfriend, Blake Johnson, said. "That empty feeling inside never goes away."

And while all still grieved...

"It still doesn't feel real, but you do what you can." Ashley Robinson, Laver's sister, said.

Some made peace.

"I did something I needed to do for a year, and I can't say what it is, but I found peace." Sexton said.

Family and friends gathered at Walker Park for a balloon release, not just to honor the memories of their lost ones, but to send a message.

"Love one another, be kind to one another, and help stop the violence." Sexton said.

And to remember what they loved best about these men.

"I'm a little overwhelmed, but I'm glad everybody could come." Sexton said.

"It's like we're sending a message to Aaron, that we're still here, and we still care, and we'll be here to fight to the end until he gets justice." Johnson said.

Craig Stanford is charged with both murders. Police believed he killed the two after they reported Stanford for stealing from them.

To stop that kind of violence, Aaron's mother hopes the balloons are found, and their message received.

"Wherever they end up, if it stops one person from doing something violent, then we did what we set out to do." Sexton said.

Stanford is set to go to trial in August.

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