Men on both sides of a shootout were sentenced Friday to life in prison for the death of a 3-year-old boy fatally struck amid the exchange of gunfire in a Compton liquor store parking lot in 2018, prosecutors said.
Kevaughn Harris, the 30-year-old boyfriend of the boy’s mother, and Dwayne Ward, 32, were each convicted in December 2019 of second-degree murder, firing at an occupied vehicle, being a felon with a firearm and attempted murder, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
Prosecutors previously said the violence that erupted Jan. 20 and killed 3-year-old Franklin Ponros was due to Harris and Ward being members of rival gangs.
Both men were in the area of a corner store on the 2800 block of West Alondra Boulevard around 7:45 p.m., as Franklin and his mother sat nearby inside a parked car.
Ward, sitting in a nearby vehicle, allegedly got into a verbal argument with Harris, who was walking toward the car that his girlfriend and Franklin were in, according to the DA’s office.
Both men then produced handguns and opened fire on each other, prosecutors say. Surveillance video released of the incident appears to show Harris fired the first shot.
At some point, the toddler was fatally shot while sitting in the backseat of his mother’s car. Investigators previously said the car was already speeding away when Harris and his girlfriend realized Franklin had been shot.
They frantically stopped at a Mexican restaurant in Carson pleading for help, witnesses said. A customer there called 911 and Ponros was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Two days after the violence unfolded, Ward turned himself in to sheriff’s detectives. Harris, however, was arrested a few months later on March 21, according to the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.
“The pain caused by the loss of a young child is unimaginable, more so when it’s caused by senseless violence,” L.A County DA George Gascón said in a statement. “Today’s life sentences will ensure these men will never hurt another innocent victim again.”
Harris was sentenced to 103 years to life, and Ward was sentenced to 89 years to life.