Older brother pleads to involuntary manslaughter in Columbus sibling’s unintended shooting

When Marquavious Ford walks free from the Muscogee County Jail, he will have lost two years of his life and a brother he loved for 17.

As his family wept both from loss and relief, Ford pleaded guilty Monday to involuntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of his younger brother Quindarious Ford, 17. Sentenced to 10 years’ probation and two years in jail with credit for time he already served, he was expected to be released later that day.

He had been jailed since March 17, 2021, when he and his brother had “an exchange of words” before Marquavious fired the fatal shot as a 15-year-old sister watched, investigators said. That was at their grandmother’s home on Avalon Road, where Quindarious Ford was living at the time.

Their mother Tamber Ford had just dropped off Marquavious and his sister on her way to work, said prosecutor Veronica Hansis, who described what happened.

As the pair playfully teased each other, Quindarious told his brother, “I will kill you,” to which Marquavious replied, “Not if I shoot you first,” pulling a pistol from his waistband and pointing it, she said.

The gun fired, the bullet striking Quindarious in the face, Hansis said. Realizing the severity of the wound, Marquavious became hysterical, at one point putting the gun to his own head and threatening to kill himself, she said.

Police were called at 4:32 a.m., and Quindarious was pronounced dead at Piedmont Columbus Regional at 5:15 a.m.

‘Truly a tragedy’

Though the family told investigators Marquavious, then 21, would never have harmed his brother intentionally, police initially charged him with malice or intentional murder.

Prosecutors reviewing the case found no intent.

Defense attorney William Kendrick, left, sits with client Marquavious Ford in court after Ford’s guilty plea in his brother’s death.
Defense attorney William Kendrick, left, sits with client Marquavious Ford in court after Ford’s guilty plea in his brother’s death.

“There is simply no evidence whatsover that Mr. Ford intended to shoot his brother,” Hansis told Judge Ron Mullins, adding that the two brothers had “a close and loving relationship”, that “they regularly engaged in this friendly back and forth banter” and that the shooting was “truly a tragedy.”

She said she negotiated with defense attorney William Kendrick to resolve the case and allow the defendant to return to his family, to help them heal from their loss.

Relatives began to cry when they addressed the court.

“I just want to say that this has been the longest two years for our family,” aunt Tawana Ford told Mullins.

“He’s a great child,” she said of Marquavious. “He’s been raised right. He has supported his mom, my mom, everybody. It’s been hard, but we want to get him help to cope with this.”

Weeping, she told her nephew, “I just want to say that we love you.... We never gave up on you. Everything’s going to be OK.”

Besides the manslaughter case, Marquavious faced charges from a Nov. 18, 2020, traffic stop on Mt. Pleasant Drive, where police stopped his Nissan Altima and found 19 grams of marijuana and a Glock pistol in a bookbag thrown from the car.

He was accused of possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute it, and that case also was resolved Monday with no additional jail time.

‘Live for both of y’all now’

With the Ford family standing beside him outside the courtroom, after Monday’s plea, Kendrick said his client’s record will be cleared, if he successfully completes his probation, as Mullins granted him first-offender status.

“His family is here in full support of him,” Kendrick noted. “This was a completely, just tragic situation, and I think that now everyone is just looking forward to the healing process.”

Marquavious, now 23, will have to learn to live with what happened.

“I told the young man, I said, ‘Look, you’re going to have to live for both of y’all now, so the accomplishments that you have, and the wins that you have, the victories, will be attributed to both of you all, and the failures will be the same way, so you’ve got to make good on it,” Kendrick said. “I think he’s up to the challenge. He’s a good kid.”

The family just marked the two-year anniversary of Quindarious’ death, said the mother, who added she feels his presence every day.

“He’s silly,” she said. “He loved fun. I miss him just talking mess. I miss a whole lot about my son.”

He was to graduate from Hardaway High School, which kept him in the lineup for the ceremony that year, marking his absence as his classmates received their diplomas, she said.