The trial of Travion T. Ford, a 25-year old black man, on charges of killing Bryan R. Frost, a 23-year old white man, is scheduled to begin Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court. Frost, a USC student, was stabbed early on Thursday, Sept. 18, near 28th Street and Orchard Avenue in University Park.
The Times' Larry Gordon has a story today on rising town-gown tensions in the lead-up to the trial:
The two young men were close in age, shared the same turf in the neighborhoods near USC but led very different lives. Then, with the slamming of a metal gate, they had a chance encounter late one night in September.
After drinking with friends, Bryan R. Frost, a USC student and aspiring film director, walked past a sliding gate just north of campus and, on a whim, shoved it closed. The loud clang drew the ire of Travion T. Ford -- street name "Poison" -- who was visiting his mother's apartment there.
Angry words were exchanged, then they fought. Frost, 23, an Idaho native and former West Point cadet with an excellent academic record, died at a hospital later that morning of knife wounds.
Ford, a 25-year-old warehouse worker who has had several brushes with the law, was arrested six days after the Sept. 18 fight and is scheduled to stand trial next week on a murder charge. Facing a maximum sentence of 26 years to life in prison, Ford has pleaded not guilty and told police that he stabbed Frost in self-defense against a drunk and aggressive opponent.
Frost's death triggered grief around campus and calls for better security. Among other things, USC and the Yellow Cab company made it easier for students to use taxis at night rather than walk home. Meanwhile, some area residents said they were upset about the death but also expressed annoyance over having rowdy students as neighbors.
Ford's relatives and friends say his case is being handled more harshly because it involves a white USC student and a black defendant and because the school wants to project a security-conscious image.
Photo: The fatal encounter began when USC film student Bryan Frost closed the metal gate of this apartment complex as he walked by with friends. Travion Ford came out yelling and the two began to fight, according to testimony. Credit: Spencer Weiner/Los Angeles Times