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.’
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).
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
arrested Mariet Ford six months later, after interviewing him three times during
the investigation. Inconsistent statements during those interviews led to his
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
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.
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.
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.
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
the verdict was read, he dropped his head in his hands and whispered, “Oh my
San Francisco Chronicle