Ford takes the stand in his own defense

NORWICH – For the first time since his arrest over a year and a half ago, accused murderer George Ford Jr. took the stand Friday afternoon to tell his side of story about the night 12-year-old Shyanne Somers was killed.

Under direct-examination by Defense Attorney Randel Scharf, Ford told the court a version of events never before heard by the public.

Ford, 44, of Piscataway, N.J., is charged with second degree murder. At the time of the incident, Ford arrived at Chenango Memorial Hospital with the victim’s body at 4:30 a.m., claiming he accidentally ran the girl four hours earlier, while turning his truck around on Will Warner Road in the Town of Otselic.

Ford said he picked up Somers at around 11:30 p.m. July 7, 2007 and took her to a nearby field he owned because the Otselic babysitter continually talked about seeing his horses. 

“It was the first very first thing she asked about and it kept coming up in conversation,” said Ford.

Ford said he took the girl to his house to babysit his two-year-old son, but his wife, Cindy, decided she didn’t want to return to the party they’d been attending.

Upon leaving, Ford decided to stop at the home of his friend, Sheldon Rose, to see if he’d go back to the party with him instead.

Ford said Somers noticed a beeping GPS unit in his truck that his wife had placed there.

“She thought it was my cell phone,” he said to the Broome County Judge Joseph Cawley, who is the sole juror in the bench trial.

Ford said he decided to go to Rose’s residence along Stage Road, but made a detour to an abandoned property on Will Warner Road he had visited numerous times to toss the GPS in a pond there. 

Unable to find the pond, Ford said he threw out the GPS and an old syringe that had also been under the seat. He said he then left the residence to show Shyanne his horse.

After driving down the road, Ford said Shyanne climbed out of his pick-up as he tried to turn around and he accidentally hit the girl.

“She was supposed to stay on the right side of my truck,” said an emotional Ford on the stand.

Ford said he left Somers’ body at the scene and returned to the abandoned house back down the road, where he again found the GPS unit and put it back in his pocket for an unexplained reason.

After spending a period of time at the house, Ford said he returned to the scene at around 3 a.m. and put Somers’ body into his truck and departed for the hospital.

“What was I supposed to do, go to her parent’s house, to my house? I didn’t know what to do,” he said.

Ford will take the stand again Tuesday at 9 a.m. to face McBride in cross-examination.

More details from Friday’s testimony will appear in Monday’s edition of The Evening Sun.

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