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A St. Paul man awaiting trial on violent crime charges has been implicated in the murder of Dion Ford, a former St. Paul Central High School basketball star, pictured here:
According to charges filed in Ramsey County earlier this month, Xavion Tyrese Bell, 21, shot and killed Dion Lamarr Ford Jr., 21, during an attempted robbery in St. Paul on the night of March 30. Ford attempted to defend himself from the attack by firing his handgun and striking Bell. The criminal complaint noted that Ford had a permit to carry a handgun.
Media reports indicate Ford was a talented high school basketball player who broke the 1,000-point mark while leading the St. Paul Central varsity basketball team before going off to play college basketball in Casper, Wyoming. More recently, Forde was attending Augsburg University on an academic scholarship at the time of his murder.
Ford’s former basketball teammate Ronnell Porter said,
It’s been tough for our community, losing him. Not a lot of people get to do that at the college level. Like I said, he had a big impact, on me, our friends, the community itself.
Court papers indicate that Bell was out on bond for two other open criminal cases. In July 2020, Bell and an accomplice allegedly robbed a 63-year-old man at gunpoint. Bell took his cellphone and wallet before forcing him into his vehicle near Wheelock Parkway in St Paul. Additional charges allege that Bell also took the man to an ATM and coerced him to reveal his PIN so they could withdraw $800. They returned the man to his parking garage, but took his vehicle.
Roseville Police found the vehicle on Marion Street, and while processing the crime scene witnessed a 28-year-old man jump out of a moving vehicle. The man told police that he and his girlfriend had been forced into their vehicle at gunpoint by two men. Bell was later arrested along with two accomplices for that carjacking.
Charges filed in Ramsey County allege that Bell wielded the gun during each carjacking incident. He was charged with three counts of first-degree aggravated robbery, three counts of kidnapping, and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Court records show that Bell posted bonds in the two pending cases and was released from custody the day after Thanksgiving last fall.
Bell has a November 2018 conviction on felony first-degree aggravated robbery. He was sentenced to 48 months in prison in the case, but the sentence was stayed by Ramsey County Judge Nicole J. Starr. Bell was alternatively sentenced to one year in the Ramsey County Correctional Facility and was placed on probation for 10 years. Bell’s conviction on that violent crime makes him ineligible to possess firearms.