Darius Williams heard the bumps and sounds in his mother’s bedroom after she had gone in to argue with her boyfriend, the man convicted Thursday in her stabbing death.
“I heard her saying stop,” Williams, 12, testified Thursday in the Bibb County trial for Bobby Lee Fordham, 31.
Darius didn’t hear anything else.
Williams’ mother, 29-year-old Candace Rice was killed May 27, 2012, in her home on Lafayette Drive, just behind the Macon Sam’s Club.
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Fordham was arrested days later in the parking lot of an Alabama strip club.
Superior Court jurors deliberated for a little less than an hour Thursday before finding Fordham guilty of murder and theft.
He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, followed by an additional 10 years.
Rice’s son testified that he remembers Fordham preparing spaghetti for him, his younger brother and their sister. Then he took them to the babysitter’s house.
The babysitter testified Wednesday that it wasn’t odd for the children to stay overnight since she often kept them while Rice worked the night shift at the Macon YDC. She became concerned when no one arrived to retrieve the children the following day. She called Rice’s father, who later called police.
Gregory Rice testified Thursday that he climbed in a window that had been blocked by cardboard to get into his daughter’s locked house May 28, 2012.
A police officer at the house with Rice noticed the bedroom door was locked and opened it.
Although the officer told the worried father to wait, Rice said, “I went in behind him.”
They found his daughter’s body, covered by a blanket, with a knife plunged in her chest.
Fordham testified Thursday as the only witness in his defense.
He said he met Rice in 2002 through their jobs at the Steak ‘n Shake on Mercer University Drive. They were friends and co-workers until a romance blossomed in 2008. He moved in with Rice in 2011 and helped raise her three children, none of whom are his kin.
Although Rice’s son testified that the couple argued about the children playing with a pinball game, Fordham told jurors the spat was about her getting calls on her cell phone from another man.
He said she swung at him first and picked up the steak knife, which he maintained was on the bedroom dresser, left there after he used it to repair a toy. In a police interrogation video shown to jurors Wednesday, Fordham told police he retrieved the knife from the kitchen during the fight.
In his testimony Thursday, Fordham said he feared for his life and grabbed Rice’s wrist, causing her to drop the knife. He picked it up.
“I blacked out. I don’t remember nothing,” Fordham testified. “I didn’t mean for it to happen.”
Fordham told jurors he didn’t call for help because he was scared.
“I’m sorry she is gone,” he said. “It was either me or her.”
While sentencing Fordham, Judge Howard Simms called him a “poster child for domestic violence cases” and “just plain mean.”
Therapy, counseling, drugs and good intentions can’t fix mean, the judge said.
“Mean is born in you. There are really only two ways to deal with somebody who’s that mean, and you are,” Simms said.
“One is to put ‘em down like you would a rabid dog. The other is to put ‘em away somewhere where they don’t have the chance to hurt anybody again, ever.”
To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.