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Darlene McNeeley stood outside Ceres Police headquarters Monday with a small band of protestors calling for justice in the 2006 death of her son. The Ceres woman is convinced that her son's killer has literally gotten away with murder.

The same can be said of another mother whose son was also killed by Christopher Ford in a 2001 fight.

McNeeley wants Ford to face trial on charges of murdering Kaiser "Junior" Lopez. The homicide took place during an altercation in front of a residence in the 1100 block of Twilight in Ceres on Feb. 11, 2006.

Ceres Police exhaustively investigated the case - the file is over 650 pages thick - and forwarded their findings to the Stanislaus County District Attorney's office. The office decided not to prosecute Ford saying there was insufficient evidence.

"It's so wrong," said McNeeley. "How do you get self defense when you shoot once in the back and eight times in the front and then run him over?"

Ceres Chief of Police Art deWerk was aware of Monday's protest and defended his department.

"I am absolutely confident this agency has done alI we can to gather physical evidence and eyewitness statement to see achieve justice," said Ceres Police Chief Art deWerk. "I don't necessarily disgree with with the D.A.'s office in rejection of the case. They are not contemplating charges.

"I don't feel justice is being served but I'm not in a position to outguess or question the DA office. They believe there is insufficient evidence and I must go with that. The DA office has looked at the case in terms of this reasonable doubt standard and whether they can convince the jury that this was anything other than a self-defense case."

De Werk called the case an "awkward" because of a number of circumstances.

Ford, a former Marine, shot Lopez with a gun he was permitted to carry as a concealed weapon by Modesto Police Chief Roy Wasden.

Ceres investigators agree with deWerk's assessment that there has been some question about why Ford showed up a party in which he knew there might be trouble awaiting him in the form of gang affiliation.

"Certainly there's questions on (his) judgment," said deWerk.

Ford turned himself into authorities the night of the Lopez shooting. He was later released.

The Lopez homicide was the second homicide in which Ford was involved. Ford stabbed to death Francisco Serven, a Ceres resident, on July 21, 2001 after a confrontation at a Tyrus Street party which police say was heavily attended by known gang members. Ford didn't serve any jail time for the stabbing, police ruling it self-defense. Serven was stabbed 16 times in the attack, which left a finger on his left hand severed.

Ceres Police say both of Ford's victims had gang affiliations - something both mothers deny.

Joining McNeeley in her public protest on Monday was Maria Serven, the mother of Serven.

"He didn't even step in the jail when my son was murdered," said Serven. "My son didn't even have a weapon. I want him (Ford) to at least go to court and answer. I don't hate him; I hate the things he has done."

Ceres Police Commander Mike Borges said witnesses indicated that Serven, however, was one of a number of guys who physically jumped Ford and that Ford was acting in self-defense.

"At one point they were running his head into the steel metal pole," recalled Borges.

Also, prior to his death, Serven had served time in prison for assault with a deadly weapon, said Borges.

McNeeley claims Ceres Police left out evidence which would have helped firm up a case against Ford. She claims they have not listened to a female witness who watched Lopez fall after being shot.

"There were no lies," said deWerk. "We executed numerous search warrants, interviewed dozens of witnesses and collected every possible piece of physical evidence. The DA's office still feels that there is insufficient evidence to warrant any charges against Ford, despite the efforts Ceres PD put into the case."

Detectives indicated last year that the fact that Lopez was run over by Ford's vehicle as he fled the scene does not rule out self defense. One investigator put it this way: "What if you've got a mob coming for you and the only way to safety is right over the victim?"

She also complained that three requests for a copy of the Ceres Police report on the homicide have gone unanswered. Borges said the report won't be released because the case is still ongoing. There is no statute of limitations on a homicide and any new evidence could change the status of the case, Borges said.

De Werk said he has spoken with McNeeley at times over the past year, including when she was jailed for violating terms of probation.

"She used to call me from jail to urge us to do all we could to arrest Chris Ford," said de Werk.