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Gang member who testified against others is sentenced in killing of teenager over red shoes

A third gang member was sentenced Wednesday in the killing of Tavin Price, 19, in front of his mother at a Hyde Park car wash in 2015. 

As part of a plea deal, Dwight Smith was sentenced to 12 years in state prison for voluntary manslaughter and a gun allegation. In exchange, he testified against two other gang members, Kanasho Shadrick Johns, 29, and Kevin Deon Johnson, 26, who were sentenced last week.

Jennifer Rivers, Price's mother, thanked Smith for testifying against the other two men. She knew that Smith has been beaten while in jail and that he could experience further violence behind bars.  

"In the end, he did the right thing, so I can't really say much to him," Rivers said after the hearing. "I'll just pray for him and hope he gets protective custody."

Smith's mother, Gloria Ayers, told Rivers after the hearing that she was sorry her son had devastated Rivers' family and that she would keep them in her prayers.

"My son deserves to be in there because of what he did," Ayers told Rivers. "I just hope that he survives and learns his lesson from all this."

On the day of the killing, Rivers was at a car wash in the 3300 block of Florence Avenue with her son and a family friend. Price and the friend encountered Smith and Johnson at a nearby smoke shop. Smith and Johnson perceived Price as a threat because he was wearing red shoes; their gang wears blue.

After Price and the friend left the smoke shop, security camera video played in court shows Johnson leaving in a Lexus and Smith walking away. About 10 minutes later, Johnson and Smith appear near the smoke shop in the surveillance footage. The cameras then spot Johns walking toward the car wash. Prosecutors said he approached Rivers' vehicle and fired four times into Price's back.

Contact the Homicide Report. Follow @jeromercampbell and @latimeshomicide on Twitter.

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