Man convicted of murdering former Central High School basketball star sentenced to 30 years

Man sentenced to 30 years in basketball star’s murder

Man sentenced to 30 years in basketball star's murder

A man who pleaded guilty to murdering a former basketball star at Central High School learned his punishment Monday afternoon.

Xavion Tyrece Bell, 23, pleaded guilty to one count of intentional second-degree murder earlier last month in exchange for the dismissal of an unintentional murder charge.

He was sentenced Monday to 30 years in prison for killing 21-year-old Dion Ford last year.

RELATED: St. Paul man faces murder charges for fatal shooting Thursday evening

“He was a kid that just had so many goals that he wanted accomplished. March 31st, he wasn’t able to do that,” Vicki King, Ford’s aunt, said.

Ford was shot to death when he walked to his car from a restaurant and supermarket in the area of Maryland Avenue and Arundel Street shortly after 9 p.m. on March 31, 2022. He opened fire with a gun he was permitted to carry, wounding Bell in a shootout where witnesses reported hearing 20 to 40 shots, according to the criminal complaint.

Bell was found by officers being carried to another vehicle with a gunshot wound to his back. Police stopped the vehicle from leaving, and Bell was hospitalized.

“He was a fun, loving person, you’d love to be around him … there was no way you couldn’t love him,” King added of her nephew.

“The most charismatic, funniest, goofiest person on the planet, most athletic person but never tired, he just did it on accident,” Ford’s best friend, Khai West, said.

Surveillance footage shows Bell approaching Ford with his right hand in his jacket pocket, according to the criminal complaint. Bell then opened the driver’s door and leaned inside, at which point Ford opened fire, causing Bell to fall to the ground and fire back at Ford.

Court records show Bell had prior convictions for aggravated robbery and other pending criminal cases at the time of the shooting, including kidnapping.

RELATED: Man sentenced to 25 years in shooting of former Central High School athlete

Earlier this year, Bell’s co-defendant, D’Angelo Semaj Dampier, was sentenced to 25 years in prison. He was convicted by a jury last October.

RELATED: Man convicted of murder in shooting that killed former Central High basketball star

Ford broke the 1,000-point mark while playing on the varsity basketball team at St. Paul’s Central High School before playing basketball in college, including Casper College in Wyoming. He had moved back to the Twin Cities to attend Augsburg University.

Ford’s family members said they were disappointed Bell was offered a plea deal in the case that will allow him to serve time for two other violent crimes at the same time as his sentence for killing Ford.

“We’ve got to stay strong,” West added.

Later this week, Central High School will award scholarships to college-bound seniors in Ford’s name.

“It brings a lot of joy because we’re able to help out other kids in the community to try to get them into college,” King said.