Man sentenced in slaying of ex-high school basketball player

CLEVELAND (AP) - A man accused of killing a former star high school basketball player over a jacket was found guilty by a Cuyahoga County jury and sentenced to life in prison plus 20 years.
The jury deliberated for less than three hours Friday before finding William Scott, 20, of Garfield Heights, guilty of aggravated murder in the death of Bedford resident Doug Rias. The jury also found Scott guilty of aggravated robbery and the attempted murder of Rias' friend, Nikon Bell, who was a passenger in Rias' car when the two were shot.
Judge Timothy McGinty expressed no sympathy for Scott, who had denied firing the gun that killed Rias and wounded Bell in the back.
"He always smiled, and I know he's smiling now, looking down on us from heaven," said Rias' sister, Cherese Rias, in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas court. Rias was the top player at Bedford High School in his junior and senior years.
Assistant County Prosecutor Blaise Thomas called the shooting a senseless, premeditated act fueled by Scott's loss of a leather coat two months before the crime.
On Dec. 26, Rias, 20, a Youngstown State University student, was nightclub-hopping with friends. Scott and his friends began following Rias' car after Scott's friends thought they spotted one of Rias' friends wearing Scott's stolen leather coat.
Scott's friends testified that Scott walked up to Rias' car at a stoplight and sprayed the vehicle with six bullets.
Scott said, "If I can't get my coat, I'll get Doug's coat," according to co-defendants Ryan Hood, 21, the driver, and Philip Carter, 17. Rias was wearing a $300 leather jacket.
Scott's lawyer, John Gill, told the jury that Scott was home that night, and that Hood and Carter had conspired to frame Scott for the crime.
Hood is scheduled to stand trial for Rias's murder in September. Carter, now 18, previously pleaded delinquent by reason of complicity to commit robbery in Juvenile Court, and is awaiting sentencing.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)