Murder of Yetunde Price

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Yetunde Price
Yetundeprice.jpg
Born9 August 1972
Died14 September 2003 (aged 31)
ResidenceCorona, California, US

Yetunde Hawanya Tara Price (9 August 1972 – 14 September 2003)[1] was the oldest half-sister of and personal assistant to the leading tennis players Venus and Serena Williams. In 2003, Price was murdered in a shooting in Compton, California.

Background[edit]

Yetunde Price was the oldest of Oracene Price's five daughters. She was one of Venus and Serena Williams’ three other sisters, a half-sibling from a previous relationship between their mother, tennis coach Oracene Price, and Yusef Rasheed.[1]

For a time, Price worked as a personal assistant to her tennis playing sisters and as a nurse. At the time of her death, she also owned a hair salon. According to media reports, Price, despite "accepting some financial assistance" from her sisters, continued to live with her children in their house in a 'run-down' district and continued to work as a nurse, also engaging in her personal-assistant responsibilities which saw her appear at Wimbledon in the year of her death. According to the reports, Price was "determined to pay her own way in the world."[2] Price was the mother of three children. [1]

Murder[edit]

On the night of 14 September 2003, Price was chatting with her boyfriend in her SUV, parked outside what subsequently was revealed to be a trap house in the suburbs of Compton, Los Angeles County, California. According to the prosecution at the subsequent trial, two members of the Southside Compton Crips street gang, who were guarding the house, opened fire on the SUV in the belief that they were "defending [the] crack house from gangland rivals," presumably the Lime Hood Bompton Pirus.[3] Price's boyfriend, who later stated he did not initially realize that Price had been hit, sped the car away to a relative's home, where he called emergency services. Price was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the hospital, from a bullet wound in the head.[3]

Both the prosecutor and the defense at the murder trial agreed that Price was an innocent victim, and that neither she nor her companion were in the area to buy drugs.[3]

Trial[edit]

Southside Compton Crips street gang member Robert Edward Maxfield, 25 years old at the time of his conviction, pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter on March 22, 2006, the day before his third trial for Yetunde Price's killing was scheduled to start. The first two trials had ended in a mistrial after jurors were unable to reach a verdict.[4] The first trial ended in November 2004 with six jurors voting for acquittal, five for guilt, and one undecided. A second mistrial was declared 29 April 2005 when jurors deadlocked at 11-1 in favor of conviction.[5]

A murder charge against a second defendant, who was accused of firing a handgun during the incident, was dismissed after the first trial, when authorities stated he did not cause the fatal wound.[5]

On 6 April 2006, Judge Steven Suzukawa sentenced Maxfield to 15 years in prison with the possibility of parole.[5]

Aftermath[edit]

Compton rapper The Game dedicated his 2005 song "Dreams" to Yetunde Price's memory.

In 2016, the Williams sisters opened a community center in Compton for "victims of violence and their families", called the Yetunde Price Resource Center. Its tagline reads: “Committed to helping others heal.”[6]

On 8 March 2018, Maxfield, after getting his sentence reduced for "good behavior," was released on parole from the Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy, California, having served approximately 12 years in prison.[7] In an interview with TIME, Serena Williams said she learned of his release on 31 July, through Instagram, ten minutes before her match against Johanna Konta at the 2018 Silicon Valley Classic, a match she went on to lose 6-1, 6-0 to Konta in 52 minutes.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Carlson, Adam (1 August 2018). "Man Sentenced for Killing Serena and Venus Williams' Sister Was Released This Year — Then Was Re-Arrested". People. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  2. ^ Poole, Oliver; Parsons, John (15 September 2003). "The Williams sister left behind in the ghetto". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "Williams sister shot by gangster defending crack house, court told". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. London. 26 October 2004. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  4. ^ Poole, Oliver; Parsons, John (30 April 2005). "Mistrial Declared in Price Case". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  5. ^ a b c "Gangster gets 15 years for killing tennis stars' sister". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 30 April 2005. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  6. ^ Helm, Angela (31 July 2018). "Man Convicted in the Killing of Yetunde Price, Eldest Sister of Venus and Serena Williams, Released and Then Re-Arrested". The Root. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  7. ^ Jefferson, J'na (31 July 2018). "Venus And Serena Williams' Sister's Killer Released From Prison". The Vibe. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  8. ^ "Serena Williams reveals she learned of parole of sister's killer just before match". ESPN. 17 August 2018. Retrieved 19 August 2018.

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