In Richmond, a Murder Trial Begins and a Father Copes With Loss

Apr. 24, 2012 / By

New America Media / Richmond Pulse, News Report, Monica Quesada, Posted: Apr 24, 2012

RICHMOND, Calif. — Terry Bell has the perfect explanation for what happened to his son. “He was at the right place at the wrong time,” Bell said. “It was just timing. He walked out and here they come.”

Gene Deshawn Grisby, Bell’s eldest son, was shot and killed on Monday, January 10, 2011, outside his grandmother’s house at Crescent Park in Richmond. Grisby, 16, who lived with his grandmother and was under full custody of his dad, was on his way to the gym.

According to Bell, Grisby was an “average” 16-year-old kid who maintained a 2.0 GPA in school in order to keep playing football on the El Cerrito High School varsity team.

Bell, a carpenter, pushed his son to do better than him. “I had problems with him at school,” he said, talking about Grisby’s grades. “When he started to play football, he listened.”

As a father Bell was strict, always making sure Grisby was staying out of trouble and improving in school. “I’m the police,” Bell would say to others in the neighborhood. “If you see my son doing anything, you call me.”

And so it was the week before the shooting. Bell received a phone call from a teacher saying Grisby wasn’t paying attention in class. So Bell grounded Grisby for the weekend, and as the rules went, he was not allowed to leave the house until Bell got a phone call from the school saying things had improved.

That weekend, Grisby stayed inside his grandmother’s house. He did his laundry and re-arranged his closet. On Monday morning Bell drove Grisby to school, as usual, but Grisby came back early when there was a big fight at El Cerrito High School and all the students were sent home.

Dianne McAdoo, 57, Bell’s mother and Grisby’s grandmother, said her son kept Grisby on a “short rope.” Being a grandmother, McAdoo gave Bell a hard time for being so strict to such “a sweet little boy.”

Earlier on that fateful Monday, Grisby had asked his dad for a truce. He wanted to go train at the gym, to get an early start for the football season. Bell agreed.

“Unfortunately, the one time he softened up, [the shooting] would happen,” McAdoo said.

Bell puts some blame on the economic recession for what happened to his son. Unemployed since 2009, Bell had wanted to move away from Crescent Park, but couldn’t muster up the money to relocate his family. “We was just going to finish school here,” Bell said. “Once you graduate then we’ll go somewhere else, to go to junior college or something,” he recalled telling his son.

“I didn’t want to go far away, just to the other side of the freeway,” Bell added. “Now I want to get [my family] far away from here.”

Bell was raised in Crescent Park, a few doors down from where his mother lives now. He remembers the 90’s as a more dangerous time, with more shootings.

“What’s different now is that anyone that lives in Crescent Park could be shot,” Bell said. “I (thought I) had seen it all, until I saw this.”

Teenage Vendetta

Tyres Franklin, 16, was charged with murder plus enhancements for the use of a gun in Grisby’s killing, and will be tried and prosecuted as an adult. The trial against him began on Monday, April 23 at the Contra Costa Courthouse in Martinez.

Franklin does not deny he killed Grisby, although his defense attorney, Elizabeth Harrigan, is arguing for the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter.  She described her client as a victim whose actions did not amount to “cold blooded murder.”

In her opening statements, Harrigan said that Franklin had an ongoing fight with a “mini-mob” in Crescent Park where Grisby lived, and he felt threatened. That morning, Franklin’s 12 year-old brother, Terrell Franklin, was allegedly attacked by the Crescent Park “mini-mob.” When Franklin received a phone call from his brother telling him what had happened, he decided to go to Crescent Park and asked Jean Pierre Fordjour, 19, to drive him there. When they arrived, Franklin, Fordjour and three other passengers saw Grisby walking on the side of an apartment building, and Franklin decided to step out and confront him.

According to Bell, Grisby and Franklin had been in a fight when they were in the 8th grade, but he couldn’t recall anything else ever happening between the two young men.

“It could have been any kid,” Bell said.

One year and three months have passed since Grisby’s murder. Bell deals with the pain by spending four hours a day at the gym, but said he still has a hard time finding forgiveness for Franklin.

“My anger has shifted to the parents,” Bell added. “What was his parents doing? Where were they?”

Franklin lived very close to Grisby’s home in Crescent Park. Bell said he wishes he knew Franklin had a problem with Grisby, so he could have knocked on his door and tried to find a solution that didn’t involve a gun.

“I got boxing gloves,” Bell said. “Those guys, they could have put on boxing gloves, if you got a problem. But (they chose to) bring a gun.”

RICHMOND PULSE is a community news and media outlet, committed to amplifying the stories and voices of the city’s under-served residents. Our reporting is led by young people, but with the intent of serving the entire community. Through our work, we seek to discover,and find solutions to, the health issues that plague the Richmond, California community.

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