LOCAL : Ex-LAPD Detective Gets Life, No Parole in Slaying of Northridge Man

From Times staff and wire service reports

Former Los Angeles Police Detective Richard Herman Ford was sentenced today to life in prison without possibility of parole for the 1983 contract killing of a Northridge man.

In a 30-minute impassioned plea, Ford steadfastly proclaimed his innocence. "I'm innocent," Ford said. "I believe I was convicted because I was a police detective."

Ford, 48, who did not testify during the nine-month-long trial, also rebutted several pieces of evidence that led to his October conviction for the murder of Thomas Weed, 52.

Separate Van Nuys Superior Court juries convicted Ford and another former Los Angeles Police officer, Richard Von Villas, 44, of Simi Valley, of murdering Weed, a debt collector and small-business owner, in exchange for $20,000 from Weed's ex-wife. Both were members of the LAPD during the commission of the crimes.

In October, prosecutors ruled out the death penalty for Ford when jurors failed to agree on a sentence. Jurors in the Von Villas case recommended life in prison without possiblity of parole. He was sentenced in January.

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