Crime & Justice

Gang member given 155-year sentence for slaying an innocent bystander at a football game

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A Long Beach judge Monday sentenced a teen gang member to a more than a century and a half in prison for killing a girl at a high school football game.

Tom Love Vinson, of Bellflower, was convicted in September of first-degree murder for the killing of Melody Ross. Vinson also wounded the two young men who were his intended targets in the October 2009 shooting.

The Wilson High homecoming game two years ago happened the night before Halloween and hundreds of high schoolers in costumes went to the game.

Track star and honors student Melody Ross wore a Supergirl outfit.

The 16-year-old was exiting the Wilson football stadium when Tom Love Vinson, hunting for two rival gang members, shot into the crowd. His gang rivals survived, but Ross was dead within minutes.

Within days, Vinson and another teen, Daivion Davis, were arrested for the shooting. Davis quickly pleaded "no contest" to manslaughter and attempted murder. In September, a judge sentenced him to eight years in juvenile detention.

On that same day, a jury convicted Vinson of first-degree murder. Vinson was also 16, but was tried as an adult.

The former Wilson student testified during his trial that his targets were members of a rival gang and that one of them pulled a gun before he started shooting.

"All I seen was a black gun," he said.

Superior Court Judge Mark C. Kim sentenced Vinson to 155 years in prison on Monday. Vinson is 18.

There's a chance he could qualify for parole - if he lives long enough.