COMPTON, Calif. -- An alleged gang member accused of killing the half-sister of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams was in a "shoot now and ask no questions mood," a prosecutor told jurors Monday at the man's murder trail.
Robert E. Maxfield, 23, killed Yetunde Price when he fired 11 shots with an assault rifle at a sport utility vehicle in September 2003, deputy district attorney Hoon Chun told the Los Angeles County jury during opening statements.
Price, 31, was shot in the back of the head while riding through Compton shortly after midnight in the vehicle driven by her boyfriend, who was not injured.
Price, a mother of three and a beauty shop owner, was also a personal assistant to her sisters, who began their tennis careers in Compton. Both the prosecution and defense said there was no evidence that Price, of Corona, was involved in drugs or gang activity.
Maxfield is one of two men charged with murder in the case, which has a separate jury for each. The other defendant, Aaron M. Hammer, 24, is not alleged to have fired the fatal shot. But state law allows a murder charge for taking part in a crime in which a
person is killed by someone else.
The prosecutor said Maxfield was a member of the Southside Crips and seeking revenge on another gang. Chun alleged that Maxfield, surrounded by fellow gang members at a crack house, seized an assault weapon and took aim at the white SUV when it approached.
Maxfield's attorney, Mark Shapiro, told jurors there were "no angels" in the case but that Maxfield "didn't shoot anyone that night."
Hammer's attorney, Michael Clark, used his client's race to downplay his affiliation with the gang, which has black members.
"It's easy to paint everyone ... with the same brush as an active gang member," Clark said. "But Aaron Hammer is white. He is not a member of the Southside Crips. He's sort of their mascot."
Clark also suggested that Price's boyfriend, Rolland Wormley, may have fired shots during the incident.
If convicted of murder, each defendant faces 25 years to life in prison, Shapiro said.