Murder of Yetunde Price

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

Yetunde Price
Yetunde Hawanya Tara Price

August 9, 1972
DiedSeptember 14, 2003 (aged 31)
Cause of deathMurder (gunshot wound)

Background edit

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 marriage 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 September 14, 2003, Price was chatting with her boyfriend in her SUV, parked outside what subsequently was revealed to be a crack house in suburban Compton, Los Angeles County. According to the prosecution at the subsequent trial, two members of the South Side 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 Piru.[3] Price's boyfriend, who later stated he did not realize that Price had been shot, drove her 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 passing through the area.[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 April 29, 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 April 6, 2006, Judge Steven Suzukawa sentenced Maxfield to 15 years in prison with the possibility of parole.[5] He was released in 2018, but was subsequently re-arrested after violating his parole.[6]

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".[7]

On March 8, 2018, Maxfield, was released on parole from the Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy, California, having served approximately 12 years of a 15 year sentence in prison. He was re-arrested later that year for violating parole.[8][9]

In an interview with TIME, Serena Williams said she learned of his release on July 31, 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.[10]

References edit

  1. ^ a b c Carlson, Adam (August 1, 2018). "Man Sentenced for Killing Serena and Venus Williams' Sister Was Released This Year – Then Was Re-Arrested". People. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
  2. ^ Poole, Oliver; Parsons, John (September 15, 2003). "The Williams sister left behind in the ghetto". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "Williams sister shot by gangster defending crack house, court told". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. London. October 26, 2004. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
  4. ^ Poole, Oliver; Parsons, John (April 30, 2005). "Mistrial Declared in Price Case". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c "Gangster gets 15 years for killing tennis stars' sister". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. April 30, 2005. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
  6. ^ "Man Sentenced in Serena Williams' Sister's Death Was Released |".
  7. ^ Helm, Angela (July 31, 2018). "Man Convicted in the Killing of Yetunde Price, Eldest Sister of Venus and Serena Williams, Released and Then Re-Arrested". The Root. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
  8. ^ Jefferson, J'na (July 31, 2018). "Venus And Serena Williams' Sister's Killer Released From Prison". The Vibe. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
  9. ^ "Man Sentenced in Serena Williams' Sister's Death Was Released |". Retrieved May 8, 2022.
  10. ^ "Serena Williams reveals she learned of parole of sister's killer just before match". ESPN. August 17, 2018. Retrieved August 19, 2018.

External links edit