Los Angeles resident Dion Lorenzo Miles, Jr., 19, loved wearing the color red.
But the teens favorite color led to Miles death when Miles jumped off a bus in the gang infested Wilmington area, stronghold of the blue-wearing Crips. Two members of the gang, incensed that Miles was dressed in the color of their rival gang, the Bloods, gunned Miles down on June 13, 2007.
Miles, a second year art student, was on his way home from the campus of California State Long Beach where he had gone to register for art classes. He was dressed in a red striped shirt, baseball cap and tennis shoes. According to his parents and the L.A. County Sheriffs Department detectives, Miles was not affiliated with any gang.
As he disembarked from the bus in Wilmington, Crips member Kevon Jones and another Crips member chased Miles as he ran across the street. As the two men approached the teen, Jones asked him, What set you from?
Witnesses said that Miles, a resident of Baldwin Hills, replied, Im not from any set. Im trying to get back to the West side.
According to witnesses, Jones then aimed a .9 mm gun at the right temple of the teens head and fired. According to police, Miles was dead before he hit the ground.
In the meantime, the Miles family was frantically attempting to reach their son on his cell phone.
It was not like him not to return calls, recalled Dion Miles Sr. Thats how we knew something was wrong.
It was six days later when Miles mother, Robin Miles, received a phone call from the coroner who informed her that her son was lying dead at the morgue. The news of their sons death devastated his parents, stunned that their son had become another statistic of senseless gang violence.
Besides being a talented artist, his parents said that Dion liked music, cutting hair and possessed a million dollar smile. He was a young man full of promise, said his parents, who said that their son announced shortly before his death that he was going to be a father. The child, Dion Miles III, was born two months after Dions murder.
Its been a tumultuous year for the Miles family, who reportedly have been threatened by members of the Crips since the death of their son. Due to gang threats, the family was forced to relocate, acquire new jobs and change their telephone number.
Two weeks after their sons murder, sheriffs deputies and detectives captured Jones and charged him with first degree murder. Jones was ineligible for the death penalty because he was still a juvenile--17 at the time he committed the crime.
On Wednesday, March 12, the Miles family entered Compton Superior Court to await the sentencing of their sons killer. As Jones was ushered into the courtroom, family members said that Jones boldly locked eyes with the victims father, Dion Miles Sr. as he awaited the jurys verdict.
Robin Miles tried to choke back the tears as she turned to Jones and read a statement.
When you murdered Dion L. Miles Jr. in cold blood on June 13, 2007, you murdered my husbands namesake; you murdered a fathers most favored son; you murdered a mothers child; you murdered a father-to-be who had a fatherless son born just two months later also named Dion L. Miles III; you murdered a brother; you murdered a young man who was an art student; a young man who was a Federal Express employee; you murdered a young man who loved God, his church, his family, his unborn son; and you murdered a young man who loved life.
The reading of the statement was interrupted when Dion Miles Sr. yelled out, Do you hear what my wife is saying? and began sobbing. On the verge of tears, Robin took time to collect herself before continuing with her statement. Terrorist, you murdered a young man you had never laid eyes upon until that day...you murdered a stranger.
After the familys statement was read, the jury deliberated for two hours before handing Judge John J. Cheroske their verdictguilty of first degree murder. Cheroske sentenced Jones to 32 years.
You will be eligible for parole after you do 28 years, and I doubt that you will be, Cheroske told Jones after the verdict.
Shortly after her sons murder, Robin Miles received a letter from LAPD Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger expressing his condolences. Rest assured that the men and women of the Los Angeles Police Department are resolute in their pledge to protect and serve the communities of Los Angeles as we attempt to wend the fear and agony caused by gang crime, Paysinger stated.
City Controller Laura Chick, who had long been aware that gang violence remained one of the most persistent issues in the city, also sent condolences to the Miles family. Chick sent word that her department had released a report targeting gangs entitled Blueprint for a Comprehensive Citywide Anti-Gang Strategy.
The report is calling for a much stronger partnership between the city, the county, LAUSD and the state, wrote Chick. It is also calling for greater accountability and a better allocation of funds to programs that are working. Unfortunately, these things take time, but I am hopeful.
The Miles family said they are grateful for the swift action of law enforcement and the diligence of the Compton district attorneys office in the capture and sentencing of their sons killer.
Were heartbroken that we will not be able to see our son, Dion Jr, live out his hopes and dreams, but we do have consolation that his life will continue through his son, said Robin, who said that they will share in the responsibility of raising Dion Miles III, who they say looks just like his father.
We are not turning the page and we are trying to pick up the pieces and get on with the job of living, said Robin. It is our prayer that other families that have lost loved ones due to senseless gang activity will find some kind of peace and consolation.