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Star-Telegram.com

Family of slain teen tells jury of his love for relatives, friends and church

Posted Tuesday, May. 01, 2012

By Dianna Hunt

dhunt@star-telegram.com

FORT WORTH -- The parents of a Southwest High School student who was fatally shot by the burglars he interrupted in his Wedgwood home tearfully told jurors Monday of a son who loved his family, friends and church.

"Every single night he would come and tell me he loved me before he went to bed," Debbie Forrester testified about her son, Eric Forrester.

"It feels like my heart is gone," his father, Richard Forrester, told jurors. "I'm reminded of it every day."

The testimony Monday in state District Judge Robb Catalano's courtroom moved some jurors to tears as relatives and friends told of a young man who was on Southwest's swim team, who made a point of dancing with "wallflowers" at high school dances and who helped a friend become an Eagle Scout.

Jurors are hearing testimony before considering punishment for Broderick Deon Patterson, 18, who pleaded guilty last month to murder in the death of Forrester, 18, on April 12, 2010.

Patterson could face life in prison. A co-defendant, Clifton Dequan Elliott, also 18, is awaiting trial on a capital murder charge. Both were 16 at the time of the shooting and were certified to stand trial as adults.

Forrester was shot in the head after going home to meet his sister for lunch and interrupting a burglary. Forrester dialed 911 for help and then slipped his cellphone in his pocket. The entire confrontation was recorded, including the gunshot, and jurors are expected to hear that recording perhaps as early as today. His sister was not injured.

On Monday, the courtroom was packed with Forrester's family and friends, including former members of Southwest's swim team.

His parents told jurors that he was not expected to survive his birth because of a congenital bone disorder. But he not only survived, he also went on to play sports and swim, witnesses said.

"He was my best friend," said Kenyan Gomm, who attended Southwest with Forrester. "I knew if I ever needed anything, he would help me."

A church friend, Dane Olsen, told how Forrester helped him become an Eagle Scout. Southwest swim coach Eric Robinson testified that Forrester was a "phenomenal swimmer" who won several medals at a district swim meet.

"He led by example," coach Eric Robinson testified.

Prosecutors Robert Huseman and Christy Jack also presented evidence that Patterson attended Southwest for a time but was expelled and sent to another high school after getting into an altercation.

The altercation sent a special-needs student to the hospital, according to school officials.

Defense attorneys Joette Keene and Tim Moore grilled school officials about their efforts to help Patterson before he was sent away. Assistant Principal Cathy Ridley said she thought Patterson was a "bright" kid who could make good grades when he tried.

"Your opinion is that Broderick was an awesome kid who made poor choices?" asked Moore.

"Yes," Ridley replied.

Testimony is set to resume today.

Dianna Hunt, 817-390-7084

Twitter: @DiannaHunt

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