On the stand: What the Ford trial witnesses said

NORWICH – Broome County Court Judge Joseph F. Cawley will decide today at 3 p.m. whether or not George Ford Jr. is a murderer and deserves to spend up to 25 years in prison for the death of 12-year-old Shyanne Somers.

If found guilty in the landmark case, Ford would be one of the first ever convicted on pivotal GPS evidence in the nation.

Ford, 44, of Piscataway, N.J., is charged with second degree murder in the July 2007 death of his one time baby-sitter and neighbor in the Town of Otselic. Ford claims he accidentally ran her over while turning his truck around on Will Warner Road. The prosecution says Ford murdered her in an effort to silence her over an unknown incident that happened in the hours before her death.

More than 23 witnesses were called in the trial that began Feb. 2. Here’s a rundown of what they said:

• George Ford Jr. Ford took the stand Friday and disagreed with police, saying they had confused the details of his original statements, which were the only ones he has given since the day of his arrest July 8, 2007.

Ford testified that he and his wife, Cindy, were at a South Otselic graduation party for most of the day on July 7, 2007. Ford said he had a few beers, a couple of shots of whiskey and a single line of cocaine at the celebration.

Ford said he picked up Somers’ up at around 11:30 p.m. after first asking if her mother Kathy could baby-sit. Ford said he then took Shyanne to his house to baby-sit his son, but Cindy decided she didn’t want to return to the party. Ford then left to take Somers home. Ford said he decided to stop at his friend’s house to see if he’d go back to the party with him instead. But before leaving, Ford said Somers noticed a beeping GPS unit in his truck that his wife had placed there.

Ford said he decided to go to Sheldon Rose’s residence on Stage Road, but he wasn’t home. Instead, they detoured to an abandoned property on Will Warner Road. Ford said had visited that residence numerous times and wanted to toss the GPS into a pond on the property.

Unable to find the pond in the dark, Ford said he just threw the GPS out the window along with an old syringe that had also been under the truck’s seat. He said he then left the residence to show Shyanne his horses that were less than half a mile down the road.

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

Ford said Somers died almost immediately. He claims he left the body at the scene and returned to the abandoned house down the road, where he again found the GPS unit and put it in his pocket, for a reason that was never explained.

After spending a period of time at the house, Ford said he returned to the scene at around 3 a.m. and struggled to put Shyanne’s body into his truck before departing for the hospital. On the way to Norwich, Ford said he attempted to take a short cut but realized he made a mistake when he came upon the Town of Georgetown along Rt. 26. He then turned around and headed back to Norwich. Once in Norwich, the GPS showed the truck stop three different times. Ford said he had first stopped to move the girl’s body off the brake pedal, then became overwhelmed and parked on Prospect Street and was looking for help on the third stop.

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