Drifter Who Beat Disabled Man To Death With Crutch Sentenced To Life Term - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Drifter Who Beat Disabled Man To Death With Crutch Sentenced To Life Term

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A drifter who beat a disabled man to death with the victim's crutch in downtown San Diego after a perceived slight was sentenced today to 16 years to life in state prison.

Ross Shane Ivy, 28, was convicted July 24 of second-degree murder and the use of a weapon in the April 14, 2008, death of Gregory Willis.

The 41-year-old victim was in the 800 block of F Street, across from the downtown library, when Ivy claimed he heard a derogatory comment and threw a 5-pound Bible at Willis, who was sitting in a wheelchair.

The Bible struck Willis and he stood up to confront Ivy, who grabbed the victim's crutch and proceeded to beat him to death, said Deputy District Attorney David Williams.

Willis -- who had an artificial leg -- died of a heart attack brought on by the beating and other pre-existing medical conditions, the prosecutor said. 

The victim's mother, Karen Ready, said her son helped her around the house in southeast San Diego after her husband died in 2006.

The woman said she came to court to speak for her deceased son.

"You hurt me in the worst possible way," Ready said to the defendant. "I hope you rot in prison before you burn in hell."

Willis' aunt, Storm Schneider, told the judge her nephew's brutal murder has had a devastating impact on their family.

"You can't give his mother back her first-born son," Schneider said in court.

Defense attorney Charles Guthrie said Ivy was adopted by parents who later separated and that he had a hard life growing up on the streets.

Ivy told the judge he tried to walk away from the situation and hit Willis in self-defense.

"I would never murder someone," Ivy said. "I did not beat this man to death. Maybe I should have walked away."

Ivy apologized to the victim's family and said he had been working to help homeless people get off the streets.

"I'm truly sorry," Ivy said. "I wished this had never happened."

Williams said jurors heard a man from El Paso, Texas, testify that Ivy beat him and a companion at a homeless shelter in 2006 after an argument about a bed roll.

The incident prompted authorities in Texas to issue a felony warrant for Ivy's arrest, the prosecutor said.

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