A 17-year-old Richmond resident was sentenced Friday to 50 years to life in prison for the murder of Gene Deshawn Grisby-Bell, a 16-year-old El Cerrito High School student athlete.
Tyris Franklin was convicted in April in Contra Costa County Superior Court of first degree murder for shooting Grisby-Bell in front of his grandmother’s Crescent Park apartment unit on January 10, 2010. Franklin, who was 16 at the time of the murder, did not dispute that he fired the fatal shots. His defense attorney, Elizabeth Harrigan, argued during the trial that her client should be convicted of a lesser charge because he grew up in a violent community and killed Grisby-Bell in a desperate, incoherent effort to stop attacks against himself and his family.
Prosecutor Barry Grove countered that the murder was deliberate and premeditated, noting that Franklin loaded a .22 caliber handgun and packed an extra ammunition magazine, then had friends take him to Crescent Park so he could shoot someone and make a statement in a rival neighborhood.
Grisby-Bell had no part in the earlier fights between Franklin family members and their Crescent Park rivals, whom Franklin testified had beaten his younger brother and shot at the house he shared with his mother. Grisby-Bell just happened to be walking in the street, en route to a nearby gym, when he was confronted by Franklin and four other boys as the group drove up in a sedan, Grove said.
Grisby-Bell died from several bullet wounds to his back and side.
Franklin will be in his 60s before he is eligible for parole.
In a telephone interview after the sentencing Friday, Grisby-Bell’s father, Terry Bell, said he hoped he could find peace and return to a semblance of normal life with his family and his younger son.
“Nothing will ever be able to make up for the loss of my son,” Bell said.
Bell said Franklin and Franklin’s mother both addressed the court and expressed remorse for the killing.