An ex-con was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for murdering a former Long Beach City College football player during a robbery outside a fast-food restaurant just over three years ago.
Shortly before handing down Edward Jacobs' sentence, Superior Court Judge Judith L. Meyer called the Sept. 26, 2018, shooting death of Guy Eugene Alford III a "tragedy."
Jurors deliberated just over two hours before finding Jacobs, 32, guilty Sept. 30 of first-degree murder for the early morning killing of the 20year-old Hawthorne man in the drive-thru lane of a Jack-in-the-Box near 52nd Street and Atlantic Boulevard in Long Beach.
Jurors found true the special circumstance allegation of murder during the commission of a robbery.
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Jacobs -- who had prior convictions from 2011 for robbery and 2015 for attempted robbery -- was also found guilty of possession of a firearm by a felon.
The victim's mother, April Roby, told the judge it has been 1,130 days since she was able to touch her son and that the call she received from the coroner's office about her son's death "plays over and over in my mind."
"My future stops right at my son's grave because I'm a childless mother," she said. "The world has lost a great Black man, again to senseless violence."
The judge told Alford's mother she thought it was "extremely likely that your son took a bullet" for the other passengers who were in the vehicle with him outside the fast-food restaurant.
"I call you a hero's mother," Meyer told the woman. "Perhaps that's your new mantra."
The victim's father, Guy Eugene Alford Jr., told the judge the family's day in court had arrived, and he wanted the maximum sentence for his son's killer. He thanked Deputy District Attorney Karen Brako and the Long Beach Police Department for "bringing this predator to justice."
In her opening statement in September, the prosecutor told jurors one of the men in Alford's vehicle heard the masked and hooded assailant say something like "Give me" before a struggle and gunshots ensued as the victim was ordering food in the restaurant's drive-thru lane.
A reference sample later obtained of Jacobs' DNA matched the DNA profile found on a watch that was discovered in the drive-thru lane, along with evidence from the interior and exterior of the victim's car and the victim's fingernails, the prosecutor told jurors.
Alford died at the scene from a gunshot wound to the neck.
"Based on their investigation, detectives believe Jacobs approached Alford with the intent of committing a robbery, which ultimately resulted in Alford being shot by Jacobs," Long Beach police said in a statement shortly after Jacobs was arrested in October 2019.
In his opening statement to jurors, defense attorney Samuel H. Leonard countered that "this is a wrong person case."
Jacobs' lawyer said DNA testing of the watch showed a DNA mixture from four people -- three of whom were never identified.
"There is no reliable evidence … that Mr. Jacobs was involved in these events," Leonard told jurors.
Alford also played high-school ball at Bishop Alemany High School in Mission Hills.
Shortly after Alford's death, the Long Beach City College football program mourned the Inglewood native's death on its Twitter feed in a posting that read: "A very sad day for our Viking family. Senseless violence. 'May the choirs of Angels come to greet you Guy!' Great team player but a better person! StopThisNonSense Prayers go out to his family and friends from his LBCC family."
The team's defensive backs coach, Darnell Lacy, wrote on his page, "Tired of the cowards! This dude didn't deserve this."
Former LBCC defensive backs coach James Wheeler, who coached Alford for two years, said in a Twitter post: "This was honestly a good, good kid and this one really hurts."
Alford's family and friends paid tribute to him in a vigil a day after the shooting.
Outside court, the victim's mother said even after his death the family was still getting emails from football coaches who were interested in recruiting her son, who decided at age 15 that he wanted to become a nurse.