L.A. man guilty of second-degree murder in USC student’s death

Travion T. Ford, 25, faces a sentence of 16 years to life for the Sept. 18 murder of Bryan R. Frost, 23, who was stabbed during a street fight sparked by the noise from a slammed apartment gate.

By Larry Gordon
September 1, 2009

Travion T. Ford in Los Angeles Superior Court. The 25-year-old, who sometimes worked as an usher at USC football games, conceded that he had initially lied to police about his whereabouts the day of the slaying. (Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times / August 26, 2009)

Travion T. Ford in Los Angeles Superior Court. The 25-year-old, who sometimes worked as an usher at USC football games, conceded that he had initially lied to police about his whereabouts the day of the slaying. (Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times / August 26, 2009)

A Los Angeles man was found guilty of second-degree murder Monday in the fatal stabbing of a USC film student last year during a street fight sparked by the noise from a slammed gate.

Travion T. Ford, 25, who sometimes worked as an usher at USC football games, faces a sentence of 16 years to life in state prison for the Sept. 18 murder of Bryan R. Frost, 23, near the university. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 29.

The jury of seven men and five women found Ford not guilty of first-degree murder, which would have required greater proof of premeditation and intent to kill. But the jury clearly did not believe Ford’s contention that he was trying to save his own life when he stabbed the former West Point cadet, who grew up in Idaho and dreamed of becoming a film director.

“It just came down to jurors seeing that he was lying,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Kennes Ma, who prosecuted the two-week-long trial, said of Ford’s self-defense testimony. While on the stand last week, Ford, whose street name is “Poison,” conceded that he had initially lied to police about his whereabouts the day of the slaying. Ford also testified that he didn’t think authorities would believe the word of a black man suspected of killing a white USC student.

Despite the courtroom victory, Ma said he was not jubilant. “It’s sad,” he said after the verdict. “One set of parents are sad now, versus closure for another.”

Frost’s parents and other relatives came from Idaho to attend the trial in Superior Court in downtown Los Angeles. During one emotional moment, they sobbed when the 911 call their son’s friend made after the stabbing was played in court and Frost’s moans and labored breathing could be heard. They returned home Saturday to await a verdict.

“We are very grateful the jury was able to see the truth, but it’s still a loss for us. We still lost Bryan. So there’s not a lot of consolation,” Paige Lee, Frost’s mother, said Monday from Boise. She thanked Ma and the LAPD “for fighting the fight for Bryan.”

Diane Butko, the public defender in the case, declined to comment after the verdict and did not return subsequent phone calls. Ford’s family members, several of whom testified on his behalf, were not in court for the verdict and could not be reached later. Jurors refused to discuss their single day of deliberations.

Ford, wearing a dark suit, white shirt and bright tie, showed little visible reaction to the verdict. A former warehouse worker, he has been in custody on more than $1-million bail since September, missing the birth of his first child, a son named after him.

The death shocked the USC campus and heightened fears about security. It also revived neighborhood discussions about students’ drunken partying in the area.

In what was portrayed in court as a random, tragic encounter, Frost and two friends were walking rowdily past 28th Street and Orchard Avenue after a night of drinking. On a whim, Frost slammed shut a sliding gate at the apartment complex where Ford’s mother lives.

That prompted the brawl with Ford, who police said ran into the apartment to grab a kitchen knife, then returned outside to stab the student in the heart. Frost, who had earned an economics degree at USC and was working on a second bachelor’s, was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Police found the knife in a planter at the complex, and tests showed Frost’s blood on it.

Contradicting the prosecution, Ford said he never entered his mother’s apartment that night. He claimed that he was choking badly while pinned on the ground by Frost and that he used the knife, which he said he carried for protection in a sweat shirt pocket, “as a last resort.”

Ma portrayed Ford as already agitated because he was arguing outdoors with his girlfriend just as Frost slammed the gate. The prosecutor also stressed the unlikelihood of someone carrying a kitchen knife unsheathed in a pocket.

Butko, in urging a not-guilty verdict, contended that the USC students’ drunken and aggressive behavior triggered the incident, a claim Ma said amounted to smearing the victim.

Posted by on Aug 31 2009. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

5 Comments for “L.A. man guilty of second-degree murder in USC student’s death”

  1. real sh*% i know this cat i was locked up with him its crazy how u meet a person and next thing u know he lost half his life man keep yo head up blood i mean real talk we will wake up and work out with each other and play games but till then soo woo blood lil popeye u know me

  2. dannybean

    well all i have to say is i know travion for several years now and he is a very kind and sweet person many of you have an different feelings about him because of the media had onesided the story many people judge people over looks an out come i feel like if your not the man up above you should not judge him yes i do feel sorry for the frost family but i believe if the story wasnt onesided you would to have an different outlook on the story im am a person who loves travion so much and feel like that he was not properly trailed and feel like the media is very responseable for the way everyone feel and the hatered that they have for travion because the mixed up the stories. i have knew the ford family for the last nine years and they have took me and ma family in when we didnt have any where else to go with them barely even knowing them for an year i dont think an murder have an heart like that are what about when you an your two children are hungry n dont have anyone else to turn to i was able to turn to travion ford are when i needed help with ma family mr ford was there for me so this is why i say all of you that judge him dont know him in the only reason you have anything to say bad is because of the story being told wrong the media will have everyone on alot of hate they have all of you with the hate that all of you have for him i feel you people need to get to know him b4 you judge him many of you comment and have bad things to say but what going on in your life you people are always so quick to judge someone who has no connection with you are dont know anything about you. i have been a residents of the usc area for seven years now an i have been around and seen alot there have been alot of crime n this area for years now and i have’nt heard anyone say thing about it you would’ve thought this was the first crime in this area but its not an some of the students that go to usc is just has rude. i have i got into small arguements with some of the students they rudely ride there bikes out in front of your cars all the time i was having an nice convosation n the privacy of ma home when a couple of students called the southwest police department on me. so they do alot of thing that they dont have to do. have you ever been in the area after there parties n clubs are over well i have and they be starting stuff with people just because there very intoxicated thats ma side of where i come from stop with the drama i feel like if your not from frost are fords family keep your cooments to your self thank you someone who cares deeply for travion ford.

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