Rolland Wormley by no means talks concerning the evening his girlfriend, Yetunde Worth, was murdered proper beside him.
He by no means talks about how he desperately tried to avoid wasting the older sister of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams, and was together with her in her remaining moments following the drive-by shooting in Los Angeles.
He additionally by no means talks concerning the nightmare of being, as he claims, put in handcuffs and carted off to a cell, with police considering he might be concerned in Yetunde’s killing.
Recollections of Yetunde, who was 31 and a mother of three when she was gunned down in September 2003, have haunted Wormley each day since her demise. Now they’re being refreshed by the brand new hit film “King Richard,” concerning the Williams household — together with Yetunde.
Wormley, 46, is breaking his silence in an unique interview. “Lots of people haven’t heard my aspect of the story. This actually messed me up,” he advised The Put up. “The reality is, the Williams household didn’t simply sweep me underneath the rug, they flushed me down the bathroom as properly.”
A consultant for the Williams household didn’t remark.
For Wormley, Yetunde’s homicide — which occurred simply yards from the Compton neighborhood courts the place Venus and Serena first learned to play tennis — left him spiraling into a lifetime of crime and fighting psychological well being points.
The 2 first met at a shock social gathering in Compton, hosted by mutual associates, to have fun his twenty eighth birthday on April 30, 2003.
“Tunde wasn’t dancing, so I left everybody on the dance ground and sat by her aspect. I didn’t know who she was — I didn’t know she was from the Williams household — however I simply wished to ensure everybody was completely happy,” Wormley recalled. “We began speaking and she or he danced with me. She didn’t need to flip the birthday boy down!
“We had been inseparable. We talked and danced the entire evening, and we ended up going to my brother’s after-party. We spent the entire evening collectively.”
The couple started courting and obtained severe quick. Yetunde, who was a registered nurse, magnificence salon proprietor and part-time assistant to her well-known sisters, quickly requested Wormley to maneuver into her dwelling in Corona, Calif.
“I accrued a lot love for her children,” stated Wormley of Yetunde’s three children. “I didn’t have any father rising up, so I wished to be there for them.”
Nonetheless, he turned down Yetunde’s request to maneuver in and get married. “I wished to realize her belief. She had been damage beforehand. She was a single mother with three actually younger children, and I used to be younger,” Wormley remembered. “I advised her, ‘I don’t need to damage you and be within the children’ lives and find yourself breaking apart.’”
Yetunde, who was the valedictorian of her high-school graduating class, was the oldest daughter of Oracene Worth and Yusef Rasheed. She and her sisters, Lyndrea and Isha, had been raised by Oracene and her new husband, Richard Williams, together with their half-sisters Venus and Serena.
Yetunde had her son Jeffrey, who was 11 on the time of his mother’s demise, with Jeffrey Johnson. The couple had been collectively lower than a yr, as she left him after he was jailed for assaulting a policeman.
She then wed Byron Bobbitt and had daughter Justus and son Jair — 5 and three at their mother’s passing — however Yetunde lived in worry of Bobbitt. She filed a police grievance in 1997 which learn partially: “Husband threatened me with a knife to my throat, stating he would kill me if I took his daughter away — and he additionally bodily assaulted me.”
Together with her household’s assist, Yetunde left Bobbitt, divorcing him in 2000, and launched a magnificence salon in Lakewood, Calif.
Wormley admits he was no angel. He had served time for car theft, petty theft and home violence and was on parole for drug and gun offenses on the time of his girlfriend’s demise.
He stated he advised Yetunde all about his previous. “I used to be in a gang after I met her, however I might not present her any components of that. It was a very completely different life with me and her,” he advised The Put up.
However every little thing got here crashing down within the early hours of Sept. 14, 2003.
Yetunde had been “calling and calling” her boyfriend that evening, upset that he had forgotten their deliberate date.
“I advised her, ‘We nonetheless obtained tomorrow,’” Wormley remembered.
The couple met up earlier than midnight when Yetunde picked him up from a buddy’s home in West Compton, the place he had been watching a boxing match on TV.
“She advised me she was consuming a bit of bit and requested me to take the wheel,” he stated.
However Wormley didn’t have a legitimate driver’s license, so he caught to aspect streets as he drove Yetunde’s GMC Yukon Denali.
“I seemed over to her and stated ‘Tunde, are you OK? The place do you need to go?’ However she was over it. I stated, ‘Rattling, I didn’t bear in mind I had promised to take you out.’ It freaked me out, seeing her crying,” he advised The Put up. “I used to be desperately making an attempt to make it as much as her. Her final phrases to me had been ‘Oh, Ro.’”
Their automotive was, he stated, “proper throughout the road from the place her sisters practiced tennis, and I see these sparks, I couldn’t hear something because the home windows had been up. I see a man standing to the aspect of a home … he has one thing in his hand and he’s capturing at us.
“I immediately seize Tunde’s hand and press the gasoline. I ground it and drive by the following set of lights. I’m freaking out.”
As he defined to The Put up what occurred, Wormley started to sob.
“The again window is simply shattered. I pull over. I carry Tunde up and blood is dripping out of her. I didn’t see the place she obtained shot and now I’m freaking out and it’s darkish … it was so much. It was so much.”
In shock, Wormley drove to his mom’s close by house and she or he known as 911. He claimed that the authorities who arrived arrested him on suspicion of assault with a lethal weapon.
A spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Division didn’t comply with up on a request for remark.
In response to Wormley, Yetunde — who had been shot by an AK-47 assault rifle — was nonetheless within the passenger seat when cops cuffed him.
“They left her within the truck whereas she was nonetheless residing,” he alleged. “If they might have took her to the hospital instantly she would nonetheless be residing.
“All I saved saying was to get her to hospital … They didn’t care about anyone [who was] black or coming to their rescue, particularly when it was gun violence — till they came upon that she was a famous person’s sister.”
Wormley’s sister, Carmelle, recalled the scene to The Put up: “The ambulance turned the sunshine out as they turned the nook, and we knew she had gone. Rolland was nonetheless within the police automotive, watching. They had been just about harassing him.”
LAPD officers reportedly held him for allegedly violating the phrases of his parole. Throughout interrogations, he claims, authorities advised him that different witnesses stated he had fought with folks on the Compton home, which he denied.
“I had my palms cuffed behind my again like an animal, I couldn’t use the cellphone or watch the information,” Wormley alleged. “They wouldn’t let me cellphone a lawyer or my household. They advised me they didn’t need to hurt their investigation.”
Most painful, he stated, was that he missed Yetunde’s funeral.
“I went by a lot ache. I misplaced my love — did anyone take into consideration that? We simply occurred to be within the unsuitable place on the unsuitable time.”
Wormley stated he was saved behind bars for simply over per week
“I requested God each day, ‘Why did you are taking her? She was an angel, why didn’t you are taking me?’” he recalled.
He claims that the Williams and Worth households — whom he had celebrated with at Yetunde’s Hawaiian-themed celebration the month earlier than — “shut me out.”
“I went by hell the minute I misplaced Tunde. Her household thought I had one thing to do with it,” Wormley stated.
In January 2004, police arrested former Crips member Robert Maxfield, then 23, for her killing.
In 2006, Maxfield pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter. He was sentenced to fifteen years in jail, the Los Angeles Occasions reported, and paroled in March 2018, in accordance with state corrections officers. Maxfield was arrested once more months later after allegedly violating his parole, in accordance with Los Angeles County sheriff’s officers and jail data.
In the meantime, a spiraling Wormley discovered himself out and in of hassle for a string of crimes after Yetunde’s demise. “He was simply devastated by Tunde’s demise. That simply took his life away,” his sister stated. He went to jail in 2004 after pleading no contest to housebreaking. In December 2006, he was sentenced to 14 years in jail for theft and tried homicide. His mom died whereas he was in jail.
He’s now two years out of jail and on parole, working as an Amazon supply driver. He has 5 youngsters and a sixth on the way in which with a girlfriend.
He stated that leaders of the Crips gang, of which Maxfield had been a member, later apologized to him for Yetunde’s homicide.
Throughout an episode of Fb Watch’s Crimson Desk Discuss final month with “King Richard” star Will Smith, Serena Williams stated that seeing Yetunde on display, as portrayed by actress Mikayla LaShae Bartholomew, made her emotional.
“I feel I cried the entire time. At any time when she got here on movie, I simply … personally, I simply began, like — I imply, even nonetheless,” she stated.
The sisters’ mom, Oracene Worth, added of Yetunde’s portrayal: “It was a quiet second, I feel. ‘Trigger we all know the way it was … it was simply one thing that you simply sort of try to put at the back of your thoughts and don’t need to bear in mind.”
The Williams household opened the Yetunde Worth Useful resource Heart in Compton in 2016 to supply assets and programming to these affected by trauma.
Maxfield, in the meantime, is as soon as once more in authorized hassle. On Wednesday, he was at an LA courtroom after being charged with possession of a firearm. He can be sentenced in January and his legal professional stated he intends to give up. Maxfield had no message for the Williams household and declined to remark as he left courtroom.
As for Wormley, who has a tattoo of Worth’s identify, he’s concentrating on taking good care of his children and “staying out of hassle.”
He nonetheless thinks usually of Yetunde and her three youngsters, who he by no means noticed once more after her demise, as they had been raised by Oracene in Florida.
“I’m unsure if I’ll be capable of watch the movie,” he stated of “King Richard.”
“All I did was get within the automotive and drive. I’m sorry I turned down the unsuitable road.”