Grandmother of Murdered Victim Jack Lawrence Speaks Up

On March 15, 2006 Ada Jefferson stood over her sink washing her hair. Her phone rang. Ada recalls looking at the phone and wondering why her friend was calling in the middle of the afternoon.

Ada remembers saying to herself, "she should be at work. I wonder why she’s calling?" She could have kept washing her hair and returned the call when she was finished but she felt a strong urge to immediately answer the call.

Ada remembers four years ago as if it was yesterday. She begins to state everything that occurred. "I answered the phone. My friend said Jack’s been shot." I replied, ‘Jack who?"

In her mind she was trying to think of all the people she knew name Jack. The last person to come to her mind was her 18yr-old grandson. The last person she thought would be shot was her grandson Jack.

The caller said, ‘Your grandson Jack has been shot." Ada stated in disbelief, ‘He just left. I just dropped him off and returned home and started washing my hair"

She ran for her keys and ran out the house with her hair soak and wet.

Ada drove pass the Evergreen Shopping Complex where she dropped Jack off. She saw yellow police crime scene tape, multiple police cars and a crowd gathering. Her daughter called her cell phone and informed her Jack was being taken to UC Davis Hospital.

Ada says she didn’t focus on the crime scene she kept driving rushing to UC Davis Hospital, ‘My mind was only on getting to the hospital," Ada states. She arrived to UC Davis Medical Center and was told her grandson had died on arrival.

Jack was shot and killed on March 15, 2006 from a gunshot wound to the chest.

A rumor has recently surfaced that on the anniversary of Jack’s death another youth dies.

March 17, 2010, Marque Alexander Johnson, who would have been 13yrs old when Jack Lawrence was killed, left his home headed to school. 17yr-old Marque Johnson was shot and killed a block from where 18yr-old Jack Lawrence was shot and killed four years prior.

A 20yr-old youth, Ceron Hill, was arrested at 22yrs-old he was convicted for the death of Jack Lawrence. Hill received 25yrs to Life for 1st degree murder. Hill was also given an enhancement sentence with an additional 25yrs for shooting someone and inflicting Great Bodily injury or death and two additional years for being an ex-con with a gun.

In a previous Sacramento Press article Bridgitt Osby mother of 17yr-old slain victim Marque Johnson, states, "The story in our case is that a group of young men were mourning the loss of their friend from three years ago. They decided to get revenge on the first brother they came across, and they came across Marque. He would be alive today if those disturbed individuals would have received some type of help when they had to deal with their tragedy"

18yr-old Jack Lawrence funeral was filled to capacity. Youth filled the hallway and the street outside the funeral home.

17yr-old Marque Johnson’s funeral was filled to capacity. Youth mourned throughout the church, the hallway and outside in the parking lot.

68yr old Ada Jefferson is shocked, outraged and heart-broken to learn of the rumor that someone would take the life of another youth and say they are doing so for her grandson.

‘The person responsible for taking my grandson’s life is sentenced. He was given 52 years. He’s not getting out of prison. Why would someone shoot someone else and say they are doing it for Jack?" says Ada. ‘

Ada had not heard of the rumor before today and does not condone violence. A powerful voice leaves her small framed body as she firmly states, "Why would they shoot someone who had nothing to do with Jack’s death. Why would they shoot someone period? It makes my stomach quiver and my heart hurt. It makes me sick. If they want to shoot someone they should join the service go to Afghanistan. Be productive not destructive."

Ada opens her cell phone and shows a picture saved on the front screen of her phone. ‘I open my phone and I see Jack. I will never get over the death of my grandson. It will be with me the rest of my life."

She sadly looks away as if her mind is reflecting on all the memories of her grandson. "I see a young man walking down the street and I say he reminds me of Jack. I miss my grandson. I loved my grandson. My grandson loved everyone. I didn’t know how many people loved my grandson until I took him to a party and he got out the car and everyone was running to him. I had no idea Jack knew so many people. His funeral was standing room only with people outside who couldn’t get in."

Ada adds with a strong voice, "This violence has to stop. What purpose does it serve to have another Black young man killed? It doesn’t serve any purpose; it just makes more turmoil in the community. It brews hatred. I don’t know who is doing this. They can’t really be a friend of Jack’s. Jack wasn’t a promoter of violence. Jack was a peacemaker."

Jack’s family and friends still deeply mourn his passing. Jack has been gone four years. Ada has a picture of Jack over her fireplace. Her 2 yr-old granddaughter walks in the room looks at the picture and says, ‘That’s Jack." Ada states, "Yes, that’s Jack" Ada says she talks to her granddaughter about Jack. She doesn’t let his memory die.

Jack lived with his grandmother since he was one month old. Ada states, ‘ I raised Jack. Jack was raised to help people when he could and not do them any harm. You have a right to self defense but these things that are happening is not self-defense."

When asked what she would like to tell the family of Marque Alexander, Ada replies, ‘My heart aches for your loss. Nobody has the right to take a life. It should be on God’s hands not ours to take a life. Everyone should be teaching their kids that. I don’t know any of Jack’s true friends who would do this. My heart hurts for your family. Everybody is somebody’s child. I try to help people whenever I can. It doesn’t hurt to help somebody. I raised Jack the same way. Jack would not want anyone to die. I am so sorry for your loss."

Ada wants to send a message to the youth. She cries out, ‘Think about what you are doing. Please Stop. How would you feel if someone killed your relative someone you love? So many people are going to hurt. Is this how we want to live? Everybody has a right to peace of mind, safety and civilization. Concentrate on how to help each other. If you are not part of the solution then you are the part of the problem. Please be a problem solver."

With a firm voice she asks, ‘Where are all these guns coming from?"

When asked what she would like to see come from the death of her grandson she replies, ‘Not death. I would not want to see anyone else die. I would want to see life come from Jack’s death. I want the young people to live. I wish we could start a forum, some sort of Stop the Violence Committee to brainstorm and find solutions."

When asked if there is anything else she would like to add. Ada replies, ‘My grandson is Jack Maurice Lawrence. He was born Jack Maurice Lawrence and he died Jack Maurice Lawrence. He was not Jack the Smack. I don’t appreciate anyone taking a life or saying they want to take a life on behalf of my grandson. I don’t appreciate it at all. Jack was a lovable person. I taught him this way. He didn’t misuse anyone or take advantage of anybody. That’s why so many people were there and so many loved him."

Ada takes a deep breath and states, ‘My grandson wasn’t arrested, wanted or even suspected for any crime before he died. How dare anyone commit a crime, or say they would commit a crime, murder of all things, and say they are dong it for my grandson. A friend wouldn’t make Jack a suspect now or hurt his family like this. One friend came over to clean my gutters and no one who loved Jack would take someone else life."

Ada Jefferson catches her breath again and with power she states, ‘Only God has the right to take a life."


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April 15, 2010 | 11:28 PM

Three corrections: 1) Jack was shot in the back. His grandmother learned at trial Jack saw the gun and turned to run and was shot in the back. So much damage was done the bullet traveled through his body tearing up his insides and traveled coming out his heart. He was not shot in the chest. 2) It is Ada’s 2yr-old great-granddaughter who knows Jack’s picture. I accidently wrote granddaughter.

3) At one point I typed the March 2010 homicide victim name as Marque Alexander and his name is Marque Alexander Johnson.
My sincere apologies for the errors

Article Author
April 19, 2010 | 11:46 AM

There are hundreds of thousand young Black boys that look like Jack, and Marque. I call them boys because that is what they were. I thank you again Rhonda for keeping this problem we have on the open forum. Senseless, I know Ms. Jefferson has been going through the same pain as my family. It does not make any sense this business of killing someone for any reason. Do these people know how they have messed up lives. My son and daughter both have problems sleeping. I don’t sleep period. How dare you take the life of someone because your friend was killed. Jack’s death was senseless and Marque’s was. They could have been teamates or business partners but they never got a chance because of this B.S. gang mess. You are a coward if you have to be in a gang. I am from Oak Park and never ran with a gang. I hate the thought that my son even hung around gang members. My friends growing up are the same ones that were at the funeral supporting my family through this mess. I don’t even have a set message I am just so hurt and so tired of crying and being upset that I am going to just type. So Rhonda I am sorry ,I agree with Ms Jefferson we need to come up with some way to get these young kids to understand they are throwing there lives away. Prison is not cool, and who wants to go before their time. I know I don’t and I know Ms. Jefferson did not want Jack to. I am so sorry for your loss Ms. Jefferson I am lost for words. I would love to meet you and talk. Again I do know your pain and it hurts me so bad. GOD BLESS you and your family and I know this will affect me and you for the rest of our lives. Sorry so sorry this is not what our children deserve.

April 19, 2010 | 11:49 AM

I thank you Rhonda, don’t mean to use your forum for my personal anger. I am so messed up behind this. I would rather be dead instead of my son. Just want to say thanks..

April 19, 2010 | 12:39 PM

Ward, you do not have to apologize to me nor do you need to apologize for your anger. You have every right to be angry. My sons are alive but believe me I feel your pain. Someone took your son and I would be just as upset and perhaps not as nice. I thank you for voicing your concerns, insight, desire for change and willingness to mobilize in efforts to stop the violence. I just came back from taking my daughter to the airport and was up all night with my granddaughter but I will add more later. Please take care and please keep sharing your voice. Much love and respect

Article Author
April 19, 2010 | 6:00 PM

Rhonda , I want you to take a look at a video slide show I put together in Tribute to my son. And anyone who would like to view, this is how I have been dealing with my loss. And it seems to help.

April 19, 2010 | 6:08 PM

Ward, I am excited to see your tribute. First I have to process something weighing heavily on my mind after reading your earlier post. There is so much I feel I should discuss. It will be too long to simply put here so I will put it in an article tonight. I have something I want you to watch. I feel you really need to watch it. In fact our youth need to watch it. I made my son sit and watch it with me and he walked away with a greater understanding. PLEASE tell me what you think of it afterwards. I will work on an article tonight . It’s been on my mind all day since reading your post. But I can’t just react. I have to pray on it and process it to have a greater impact. I’ll get back to you tomorrow on the tribute and anything you’d like to discuss after reading the article. Much love–

Article Author
April 19, 2010 | 6:10 PM

No hurry, the thing I am learning through all of this is patience and not reacting without thinking. So thanks I look forward. Good Night

April 20, 2010 | 2:15 AM

Ward, before I went to sleep I wanted to watch your tribute to Marque. Oh, Ward I feel your pain. Thank you for sharing your tribute with me. Your son is so beautiful. and the tribute shows your love, heart and pain. I have some ideas to run by you. I’ll call soon as soon as I gather more info.

Please watch Bastards of the Party. I feel it’s important that we begin with the history and then attempt to make sense of this madness. I made you a promise at your sons funeral that I would do all that I can to not let your sons death be in vain. Obviously change will not come overnight since we did not get to where we are overnight. However change will come once we do our homework, study, prepare and arm ourselves with understanding and most importantly truth and love. Let me know what you think after watching the documentary. I have several interviews lined up and several parts to this story on gangs, bloods, crips, subsets of gangs and cliques… I’m tired of the lies, myths and untruths told… Too many youth are fighting to live and too many more are living to die and will continue to die if people won’t go beyond the surface to address youth and violence. Take care and get back with me when you can

Article Author
April 20, 2010 | 5:42 AM

I will watch it and get back with you soon. thanks

April 20, 2010 | 7:08 AM

Wow, that was amazing. I am downloading the torrent but I watched 2 parts of it on youtube so I have not seen the ending. But the message was load and clear. So like the brotha said we have change their direction. They don’t have to break up their gang, give them something to do, to live for. Like you said it is not going to be easy, but we have no choice. I am with you if it means giving up my life here and moving back to Sac. It means that much to my heart. I understand now the affect it has on our whole Society. I hate to say it but the Funeral Homes need to get involved and give something back. They are making a killing at our expense, not ours our childrens lives. This is unreal and I had to take a break for a week or so to sort out my feelings, and emotions. The shock has wore off and now I am Angry. Each time I go through my phone and I see his name, or the picture on my phone I get this rage over me. I can’t call my son, and see how school is going. Or if he has a new girl friend, or did he watch the Lakers play. It is not right , and I know there are thousands of parents that have that same problem I have each morning . I don’t have the answers to my own questions. But as a community, a city, a family we need to do something. Greater is he that is in me, then he that is in this world. I am praying and asking for guidence. We may not be able to but we can be the vessel that God uses. I am waiting to watch the ending , just wanted to thank you it is a great piece.

April 20, 2010 | 8:52 AM

Wow, thank you for such an inspiring comment. I have to run but I will come back to comment in full. This is the article I wrote last night where you can see the entire documentary. We can sort through this together as I gradually gather and share all the information I have learned over the last few years. Again I will comment further as soon as I return.

Article Author
April 20, 2010 | 2:02 PM

Rhonda , I just finished watching . And I must say I feel that we have to start some where. No one else is going to care about our children but us. We need to begin to talk about a solution, I know everyone says it . But I would like to be a doer . It’s a shame that it has come to this, and I tell you if it would not have been my kid I may not have the interest that I have now. But it is what is , and my son is gone and I want to save as many as we can.

May 6, 2010 | 3:58 PM

First I want to say that I’m very sorry for Ada Jefferson lost. I know what she’s been and still may be going through. But I am so sorry to inform all of you, who thinks the KILLER was caught, that he wasn’t. The person convicted for Jack Lawrence death, is not the person that did the killing. The person that did the murder was in the court room watching the trail. And although this information was harshly given by the person that actually did the murder, who laughs that he got away and don’t care who took the fall as long as it’s not him, and that not right or fair. Sacramento County convicted a man that was INNOCENT. Now you may hear this kind of stuff from people that’s been convicted of one thing or another all the time, but in this case it’s TRUE. Ceron Hill did not shoot and kill Jack Lawrence. THAT’S THE TRUTH. I’m not sure or should I say I don’t understand how the Justice System could have gotten this information mixed up or confused. But I know that the Sacramento Courts system doesn’t even care. The sad thing about this whole thing is that the real person who killed Jack Lawrence and OTHER people is still running around free in Sacramento and in Oakland Ca. So while everyone is focus on Mr. Cero Hill the true person is the one laughing. He’s laughing at the Justice System, because he got away with it and he’s also laughing at Ceron Hill for taking the fall for something he did. Now I dont expect ya’ll to believe this blog, nor do I care if you believe this it or not, I do know one thing if nothing at all and that is, the TRUTH. I know that when someone you love is no longer with you and fall victim to a violent crime, sadness, anger and justices becomes very real emotions. Emotions that is understandable and part of a healing process. But it shouldn’t be so much so that the pain is blinding the truth from shining. The only thing that came out of all this is an INNOCENT young man jailed for something someone else did and another young man so sadly died and his killer is still free, both situations are a tremendous tragedy. So unless you have FACTS and not the facts from Sacramento courts because they fabricate the truth, trying to make a lie the truth just to close their books. Don’t comment on something you don’t even know about. WERE ANY OF YA’LL THERE? DID ANYONE SEE CERON HILL DO THIS? The answer would be NO cause CERON HILL didn’t do it. Sacramento County is so worried about making a conviction, only to keep their 97% conviction rate up that they don’t even care about the truth nor do they take the time to find the truth. Just so long as one more BLACK MAN IS OFF THE STREETS, INNOCENT OR NOT, ALIVE OR DEAD. Whats also sad is that instead of finding the real person that did this they would rather go by hear-say and not even creditable hear-say, might I add. Sacramento County justices system could not even place CERON HILL AT THE SEEN OF THE CRIME and in all my years i never seen a person get convicted on hear say and disregard what an eye witness said and saw. It’s beyond me! BUT LIKE I SAID CERON HILL IS NOT THE KILLER AND I KNOW THAT FOR A FACT AND SO DO THE ALMIGHTY GOD. Yes ceron may not have had a perfect life in the past but that does not make him a murderer. THEIR WAS ONLY ONE EYE WITNESS AND THE EYEWITNESS SAID IT WASNT CERON HILL AND HE STILL GOT CONVICTED. How is that? Is our justice system sooo corrupted that innocent men’s get convicted for crimes they didn’t commit? Take the fall for something they did not do? WOW!!!! I will keep saying over and over again that real killer is STILL OUT there. But if our society starts convicting INNOCENT people just to keep rating up then, well, this whole justice system is DOOOOMED. ALL I GOT TO SAY IS CERON DIDNT DO THIS HORRIBLE CRIME THAT HE’S BEEN CONVICTED OF. It’s wrong for a person to have to endure this kind of treatment. This situation is one of the many reasons for our CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT? Isn’t this the kind of situation the reason why MARTIN LUTHER KING and others died fight to change? JUSTICE and EQUALITY? Is it right for one man to be convicted of something they didn’t do? Is it right for the JUSTICE system to half ass do their job just to keep up ratings? The answer is NO!!! I KNOW THE TRUTH WILL SOON SET CERON HILL FREE AND PUT THE REAL PERSON THAT KILLED JACK LAWRENCE BEHIND BARS WHERE HE BELONGS AND FREE AN INNOCENT MAN. I TRULY BELIEVE. “NEVER STOP THE FIGHT FOR JUSTICE.” MYSPACEFREEDOODY.COM

July 14, 2010 | 4:21 PM

I totally understand that your saying doodie is innocent and if that is the truth it will come to light. Jack was my boyfriend at the time of his murder and i sat thru most of the trial it’s sad to see that not only did we lose jack but doodies family also lost him behind something sensless. i keep doodie and his family in my prayers because as much as i would like to be angry toward him for taking jack’s life away god wont allow me to so to you I say this if your in his family my prayers are with you and if he didnt really committ this crime but he knows who did maybe he should speak up i understand that snitiching isnt popular but if i got sentenced to 52 years for something i didnt do i would tell

July 14, 2010 | 4:35 PM

Thank you very much Ms.Erwin for writing this and sheading some light on Ms. Ada and how she feels i honestly started to feel like his murder went unnoticed by the community. i was Jacks girlfriend at the time of his passing and im still grieving i took his death very hard because when he died i felt like a piece of me died as well. Jack was nice to everyone im not gonna act like he was a angel because he was human just like the rest of us so of course he made mistakes but his good always outweighed his bad. it has been 4 years since he has been gone and just when i think its getting easier it doesnt the only good i say came out of this is that jack doesnt have to be here in this cruel world anymore he can finally rest in peace with god.i will love him forever. REST IN PEACE JACK MAURICE LAWRENCE your gone but as long as i have breath in my body you will NEVER be forgotten

June 8, 2014 | 6:46 PM

Ok. I get it I understand I just lost my husband in a car accident and I do understand the pain. But Like I been saying the guy that did it was in the court room making sure nothing was said and that could have in my opinon mad Ceron Hill scared to say who did it for fear of his life.. I totally get it and a I have nothing but unconditional prayers for Jack family.. Its horribable… But my point is that you guys didnt get justice you guys got a guy in jail for a murder he did not comment… The guy was in the court room of course I didnt know this until later other wise I would have said something.. Ceron Hill is a nice person as was Jack and I know that He would never murder anyone its not in him.. The sad thing to this all is that the guy that did it is still around and you would think that he would send Ceron Hill Money or try to make sure he is ok because of him doing the time he should of done… Last I know he offered his mom $20 one time and his mom started crying and declined the money… It is so unfair that Ceron is in jail for something he did not do and Jack is dead for some unknown reason by this guy that sat in the court trail the whole time… Its a sad thing and My heart goes out to Jack family and to Ceron family… So sad :(

November 3, 2011 | 10:16 PM

I also would like to express gratitude for this article.. I met Jack at Herman Leimbach Elemtary school. We were in second grade. We won the Science Fair together in sixth grade lol.. I will always remember Him as such a wonderful spirit. The last time I saw Jack was December of ’05. I shared with Him that I was leaving to Texas to go to school. The VERY last thing my Friend said to me is that one day he was gonna be as smart as me. To know that someone took his life was heart-breaking to say the least. As I cried, I whispered to Jack that He was smarter than me, and my Mother helped with my part of the Science Fair project lol. At the moment I felt the greatest sense of peace, and comfort. I knew that He was laughing with/at me!

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