20-year-old gets life for killing USC basketball player

BATON ROUGE La.

The man convicted of killing a University of Southern California basketball player has been formally sentenced to life in prison, the only sentence possible for second-degree murder.

State District Judge Chip Moore also sentenced DeAnthony Ford, 20, to 10 years for aggravated battery in a shooting two days before the one that killed 18-year-old Ryan Francis on May 13, 2006.

He had completed his freshman year at USC days earlier, had a 3.0 average and was the starting point guard, working toward his dream of professional basketball, his mother, Paulette Francis, wrote in a statement read by Francis’ godmother, Cassandra Sanders.

“In a matter of seconds, you managed to rip our hearts out,” Sanders read as Paulette Francis sat in the witness box and stared at Ford. “What you left was an empty hole filled with pain. There will be no more tomorrows for Ryan.

“All of his hopes and dreams were blown away with your weapon.”

People in the car with Francis testified at trial they were riding around the night of the shooting. At an intersection, they said, Ford got out of an SUV and fired an AK 47 at their car. Francis was the only person hit.

Ford had shot at one of the other men in the car during a fight on May 11, 2006, but did not hit anyone, prosecutors said.

Paulette Francis said afterward that she asked Sanders to read her statement because when she tried to do so at home, she choked up.

She said she saw no remorse in Ford’s face.

“He was trying to be brave. But that’s the child inside and now he’s got to pay for what he’s done,” Francis said.

Ford’s mother, Brendia Ford, said she sympathizes with Paulette Francis, but her son is innocent. Her son had been a junior at Southern University, with plans for the future, too, she said, and the sentence takes that life from him.

“To take someone’s life when they did not do anything, that hurts,” Ford said. “This case is not over.”

She urged Francis’ family to “search together and find the person who really killed her son.”

Defense attorney Winston McKesson, of Los Angeles, has said he will appeal Ford’s conviction.

Information from: The Advocate, http://www.theadvocate.com

– Associated Press



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