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15 years for killer of Williams' tennis stars kin

Written by: Staff

LOS ANGELES, Apr 6 (Reuters) A suspected gang member was sentenced to 15 years in prison today for the 2003 drive-by shooting death of the half-sister of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams.

Edward Maxfield, 25, who prosecutors say was a member of the Southside Crips gang in Los Angeles, fired about 11 bullets from an assault rifle to protect a drug house before midnight in September 2003.

One of the bullets struck the head of Yetunde Price, the 31-year-old half-sister of the tennis players, as she was driving past the house in the tough neighborhood of Compton, not far from the courts where the Williams sisters learned to play tennis.

Maxfield pleaded no contest, which amounts to an admission of guilt under California law, to manslaughter last month on the opening day of his third trial for the shooting. Juries deadlocked on their verdict in two previous trials.

Price, a mother of three, sometimes worked as a personal assistant for her athlete sisters. Neither Serena nor Venus attended the trials but today Serena Williams addressed Maxfield before he was sentenced.

''I wasn't going to speak today because it's too hard for me to talk,'' she said, but she ''wanted to let you know that this was unfair to our family, and our family has always been positive and we always try to help people.'' A murder charge against a second man, Aaron Hammer, now 26, was dismissed after the first trial. He was accused of firing a handgun during the shooting but authorities concluded that it did not cause the fatal wound.


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