The gangland killer of Serena and Venus Williams’ beloved sister is back on the street after being released from prison, DailyMail.com can reveal.
Former Southside Crips gang member Robert Maxfield shot registered nurse Yetunde Price in a drive-by shooting in September, 2003.
Yetunde was hit in the back of the head with an AK-47 and died instantly in Compton, California, leaving her family devastated.
Her killer is now a free man after completing his 15-year sentence early due to good behavior.
A mugshot of Maxfield – taken before his release on March 8 this year and obtained exclusively by DailyMail.com – shows his appearance today.
The reps for Serena and Venus have yet to comment on Maxfield’s release – however it seems likely the sisters would have been informed.
Both tennis stars were extremely close with older sister Yetunde, who acted as a part-time personal assistant and close support as their careers took off.
And news of the release will have only add to an already difficult past year for Serena who almost died after giving birth to daughter Olympia 10 months ago. And although the tennis ace put in a phenomenal performance at Wimbledon, she finished as runner up after facing Germany’s Angelique Kerber in the final.
When Yetunde was killed Serena, 36, and Venus, 38, were shell shocked by the loss.
The sisters took a long time to recover their form on the tennis court and rumors swirled that Serena nearly quit the game in her grief.
Yetunde, who was 31 when she died, was the daughter of Oracene Price, Serena and Venus’ mother. She had three young children, Jeffrey, Justus and Jair, who were taken to live in Florida by their grandmother.
On the night she died, Yetunde was the passenger in the SUV of her boyfriend Rolland Wormley when she was shot in the back of the head.
The tragedy happened just after midnight as they drove through Compton near a suspected Crips gang drug house.
Yentunde was shot when Maxfield – a reputed Southside Crips gang member – fired about a dozen rounds from an AK-47 assault rifle into the white GMC Yukon Denali.
Yetunde’s boyfriend – who cops said had been the intended target – escaped unscathed.
At the time Wormley – said to be a member of another gang called the Mac Mafia Crips – was on parole after convictions for drug-dealing and gun offenses.
Yetunde was a registered nurse, co-owned a beauty salon with a friend and also served as a part-time personal assistant for her tennis star sisters.
Maxfield pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter in April 2006 after two previous trials that ended in hung juries.
At his sentencing at Compton Superior Court, Serena said: ‘I wasn’t going to speak today because it’s too hard for me to talk.’
But she said she wanted to let Maxfield ‘know that this was unfair to our family, and our family has always been positive and we always try to help people.’
Maxfield was released on parole from Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy, California, on March 8 after getting his sentence cut for good behavior in jail.
Via email Vicky Waters, press secretary for California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations (CDCR), told DailyMail.com: ‘Robert Maxfield had a determinate sentence, which means he was released to parole supervision after completing his term.
‘Maxfield was sentenced to 15 years, and was received by CDCR in May 2006.
‘An inmate is eligible to receive good conduct credits – in this case, at the rate of 15%- for good behavior.
‘Per the law, he was eligible for 15% credit off his sentence, and he also received 989 days of credit for time served while awaiting sentencing, time served post-sentencing before arrival to prison. He was paroled in March after serving his full-term of his sentence, as defined by law.’
Asked if victims families are informed when an offender such as Maxfield is released, Ms Waters added: ‘Victims can register with CDCR’s Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services to receive resources, as well as notifications on an inmate’s parole actions or release.’
Since Yetunde’s death Serena and Venus have become advocates for change.
In 2016, the sisters opened a community center in Compton called the Yetunde Price Resource Center to help people affected by violence and trauma get resources they need.
At the opening, Yetunde’s daughter Justus and son Jair received a plaque honoring their mom and Serena explained why they had set it up.
She said: ‘We definitely wanted to honor our sister’s memory because she was a great sister, she was our oldest sister and obviously she meant a lot to us.
‘And it meant a lot to us, to myself and to Venus and my other sisters as well, Isha and Lyndrea, that we’ve been wanting to do something for years in memory of her, especially the way it happened, a violent crime.’
Last December the sisters lead an emotional panel discussion at the ‘A Family Affair’ event at a tennis center in Washington DC, addressing the impact senseless acts of violence have on families and communities.
Serena began to cry soon after beginning to speak about Yetunde, she said: ‘Well, violence has affected our lives personally — we lost our sister, she was the oldest — to violence.
‘But I think what people don’t realize is how violence really affects not only your family, but your friends, your neighbors…everyone…And it’s … I’m going to stop there.’
Venus then took over and described the pain Yetunde’s death caused.
She said: ‘Also violence not only affects the victim’s family but also the family of the perpetrator, it ruins their lives as well. If you’re a mother or a father it’s not your plan to have your child commit this, it ruins lives.
‘I think one of the hardest days of all of our lives was having to tell our sister’s children what happened to their mom, you can’t prepare for that.’
Venus also told how gun violence cast a terrifying shadow on them as children practicing on the courts in Compton with their father Richard.
She said: ‘As we were growing up on the tennis courts in Compton, California, you know some of the cars were not new and there was also gunfire, so if a car backfired we knew to hit the ground because it sounded very similar to a gun, so between the gunshots and the cars backfiring we were always hitting the ground, our dad always had us get back up and practice though.
‘And I remember one afternoon there was a drive-by and we hit the ground, guy got out of the sunroof and started shooting and we went back to practice and our dad didn’t want us to keep secrets in our family, so he didn’t tell us not to tell our mom.
‘And so of course when we went home, we were still young we didn’t understand the gravity of it all, thank God. The first thing we were like “mom, mom, mom there was a drive by” and our mom was just so upset, so upset.
‘You know unfortunately sometimes as a young person you can get used to that and no one should have to get used to that. And hopefully we’re able to step by step do things to change that in the community and the times we cannot change it, what we want to do is to remember the person that has passed, and that’s what’s so beautiful about the Yetunde Price Resource Center, is that we couldn’t have prepared for this, but now there’s something beautiful coming out of it.’
Serena has won 23 Grand Slam titles. She won six before Yetunde’s death and didn’t win another until 2005’s Australian Open although managed to finish runner-up to Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon 2004.
Victory on Centre Court earlier this month would have brought her level with Australian Margaret Court’s record of 24 grand slam titles – and would also have been her eighth Wimbledon title.
The tennis legend was emotional as she graciously congratulated her opponent Kerber.
Her voice cracking and holding back tears, she dedicated her performance to other mothers, saying: ‘For all the moms out there, I was playing for you today and I tried.’
Few would bet against the superstar breaking Court’s record before she retires and adding more Wimbledon titles in the process.
On Monday she posted on Instagram: ‘I’ll be back (and soon too) Road to the Us Open is next! Stay strong no matter what. Oh and this is just the beginning. Love you.’
Speaking after Serena won Wimbledon in 2015, family friend Dionne Henderson told DailyMail.com how Yetunde’s devastating death was a big factor behind Serena’s intense motivation to keep winning.
Dionne said: ‘I see Yetunde in her when she plays. I really believe that one of the things that drives her so much and keeps her going is that every time she plays she’s giving it her all because of Yetunde.
‘I think it has spurred her on to win more championships. The sport helped Serena heal, it gave her focus and an outlet and helped get rid of that pain, put it into perspective.
‘Yetunde is a constant heartfelt motivation in her soul, in her spirit. I think it’s the same for the whole family, everything they do now centers around ‘this would have made her (Yetunde) proud.’
Dionne who was at school with Yetunde, was her best friend and served as her maid of honor at her wedding.
She has known Serena and Venus since they were five and six.
She said Yetunde would speak to her younger sisters every night before they went to bed no matter where they were in the world, up until her death.
She said: ‘Just before she passed away I vividly remember her saying “you know I talk to the girls every night just before I go to bed” and they were on the east coast and we were here on the west, and I remember her saying “Dee I gotta go because the girls are going to be calling me at this time.”
‘I remember Venus saying the one thing she missed most was giving her that call each night.’
On Yetunde’s shocking death, she said: ‘It was horrific, she was such an upright citizen, I don’t think Yetunde ever had a parking ticket, she was so right and politically correct.
‘Her passing away impacted the family tremendously. Even our family, because we spent a lot of time together. It was very devastating.
‘It shook everyone to the core. There was a void so deep within all of us and we just didn’t know what to do.’
Dionne said Yetunde was very proud of her superstar siblings, adding: ‘I know for certain Yetunde was so proud of Serena and Venus. It also gave her a sense of well being, their success.
‘When we were growing up we didn’t have much, we were very much the lower spectrum of middle class, if even at that in Compton. To see them achieve that level of success, it gave Yetunde such pride and to see where they are now she would be even more elated to know that they’ve done so well.
‘They have literally changed the sport. Tennis was very very exclusive and they broke down the barriers.’
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Ryan Parry and Hugo Daniel