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Twenty-two years ago, Mariet Ford flung a football over his shoulder, the last of five laterals on the most celebrated play in college (Cal) history.  This event became known as “The Play,” as the Cal Bears beat Stanford to win the ‘Big Game.’

Mariet Ford is currently serving a 45-year prison sentence, convicted of murdering his pregnant wife and their three-year old son, Mariet, Jr. (pictured above).

Ford grew up in the affluent community of Walnut Creek in Northern California.  He was the oldest son of Dan and Carrie Ford.  He has been described as quiet, shy and pleasant.

Ford became an All-American and earned a scholarship to Cal where his younger brother Orrin joined him on the football team.  He turned into Cal’s best receiver, catching 45 passes in 1981 and 42 in 1982.

After college, Ford signed with the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free agent. He got cut at the end of training camp.  He played for the Canadian Football league where he played nine games.  After tryouts with two USFL teams, Ford retired from football in 1985.

Ford went to work for Liberty Mutual Insurance in San Francisco.  Around this time, his first marriage ended after three years in 1990. In 1992, he met Teresita (Tess) Cabello at a club in San Francisco. She was pregnant when they married three months later.

In 1993, Tess gave birth to Mariet (MoMo) Jr. Mariet, Tess and the baby moved into a one-story home in Elk Grove, a Sacramento suburb.

On the morning of Jan. 16, 1997, Mariet Ford called his brother and asked him to check on Tess because she was not answering the phone.

Orrin Ford arrived at the house and found the burning bodies of a pregnant Tess and MoMo on the floor of the dining room.  An autopsy revealed, they were both killed before their bodies were set on fire.  MoMo died from repeated blows to the head and Tess had a broken jaw, three broken ribs and a fractured clavicle.

Police arrested Mariet Ford six months later, after interviewing him three times during the investigation.  Inconsistent statements during those interviews led to his arrest.

At the trial, he was portrayed as a hot-tempered adulterous husband trapped in a unhappy marriage stressed by debt.  During testimony, Ford admitted to two affairs.

The most compelling evidence presented at the trial was, a scratch on Ford’s face (none of his co-workers or friends noticed the scratch in the days before the murder).  There was also a gap in his alibi and there was no sign of forced entry.   Investigators also found gasoline on his shoes.

In the third interview with police, Ford referred to the murders as ‘The accident.’   The prosecutor wondered in his closing argument, why an innocent man, assuming a burglar killed his family, would ever view it as an accident.

Jurors watched Ford closely during the trial, his brother Orrin took the stand and fell apart when he described the remains of his sister-in-law and nephew, the lawyers and jurors held back tears.  Mariet Ford was the only person in the courtroom who seemed unfazed.

After five days of deliberations, the jury returned its verdict on April 22, 1998, finding Ford guilty of three counts of second-degree murder and one count of arson.

When the verdict was read, he dropped his head in his hands and whispered, “Oh my God, no!”

Source: San Francisco Chronicle



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