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Jury starts deliberating in USC murder trial

August 28, 2009 |  4:47 pm

A jury began deliberations today in the case of the Los Angeles man charged with the stabbing murder of a USC film student last September during a street brawl that started over the noise from a slammed gate.

Travion T. Ford, 25, pleaded not guilty in the death of Bryan R. Frost, 23, and said he had stabbed him with a kitchen knife he had in his pocket as a "last resort" to save his own life. Ford testified that he was gasping for breath as Frost, a former West Point cadet who friends said was drunk that night, pinned him on the ground outside Ford’s mother’s apartment near USC.

During the two-week-long trial in Superior Court in downtown Los Angeles, prosecutors sought to prove that Ford showed enough intent to merit a murder conviction. They contended that Ford, after a first round of fighting, ran into his mother’s apartment, grabbed the knife and then returned to the street to stab Frost in the heart. The Idaho native with dreams of becoming a film director was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.

"This is not a self-defense case. It is a murder case," Deputy Dist. Atty. Kennes Ma told jurors.

Ford, a former warehouse worker with the street name "Poison," could face a maximum sentence of 26 years to life in prison if convicted of the most serious murder charges.

Frost’s death sent shock waves through the university community and heightened fears about security. It also revived debate about rowdy student behavior near USC since the fight began after Frost on a whim slammed the sliding gate shut while walking back from a local bar about 2 a.m.

--Larry Gordon