A Tarrant County judge sentenced a former college football player to 25 years in prison Tuesday for his role in the robbing and killing of a 29-year-old father of three in 2017.
Broderick “B.J.” Ross, a former quarterback for McMurry University in Abilene, pleaded guilty to murder in the death of Chris-Dion Russell, who was fatally shot on Jan. 11, 2017.
Ross and two other McMurry football players were accused of robbing Russell of his marijuana stash, according to prosecutors. Ross and Dontrell Dock, a former running back, were charged with capital murder. Dock was found guilty of felony murder and sentenced to life in prison in October 2018.
The grand jury declined to indict the third man, a 21-year-old from Fort Worth, who was arrested in the case. Dock and Ross had named the man as the gunman, according to an arrest warrant affidavit, but the investigation ultimately led prosecutors to indict only Dock and Ross in the shooting.
According to the indictments, the two killed Russell while robbing him at his apartment in the 1700 block of East Robert Street in Fort Worth.
Text messages retrieved by investigators showed that the men talked about the robbery prior to the night of Russell’s death, evidence produced at trial showed. A day after Dock initially interviewed with detectives in 2017, his mother called police to report that Dock, while packing to return to school, had found a gun in his backpack, according to an arrest affidavit.
The weapon, a .45-caliber handgun, was believed to be the same one used to shoot Russell, the affidavit said.
Tarrant County Judge Wayne Salvant, who sentenced Ross, said he factored into his decision on Ross’ sentence the nearly two dozens letters of support that were submitted on his behalf.
“Your co-defendant got a life sentence,” he said in a press release from the District Attorney’s office. “There is something redeemable in you. I needed to give you something to get your attention. We have a young man who is dead.”
Assistant Criminal District Attorneys Marcus Hanna and Kacey Fickes prosecuted the case.
“The criminal justice system works. Justice was served,” Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney Sharen Wilson said in the press release.
This story contains information from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram archives.