One of the hardest tasks she faced, Harlins said, is "having to defend Latasha's character."
After the killing, captured on the market's videotape, police said that Latasha had not been trying to steal the orange juice. But people assumed she was a thief. Harlins said she also confronted suggestions that Latasha, who struck Du four times during their confrontation, was a violent street kid. "She wasn't involved in any type of (illegal) activity. They always tried to make Latasha the criminal, not Du."
The family has not recovered from the death, she added. Christina, a fifth-grader, looked through the market door with a friend and pointed quietly, saying, "She was killed right over there."
Despite committee efforts, Karlin--reassigned to Juvenile Court after the sentencing--was reelected by voters last June. Although the group successfully lobbied for Department of Justice consideration of federal civil rights charges against Du, officials have not announced any decision.
Rae and Harlins seek changes in state law to provide information to the families of crime victims about criminals placed on probation. Now, state authorities notify victims' families when a prisoner is up for parole, for example, but information about probationers is confidential.
Rae and Harlins admit they are tired of the fight. "I wish I could move on, to the life I really want," Harlins said. "But I just can't."