ATLANTA — As his grandmother sat nearby weeping, a 20-year-old man charged in the death of ex-boxing champion Vernon Forrest had his first appearance in court Wednesday morning.
Demario Ware, who turned himself in to authorities Tuesday night, is charged with murder, aggravated assault, armed robbery and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon.
He appeared at a jailhouse hearing in front of Fulton County Magistrate Sylvia McCoy, who read him the charges. Wearing a navy blue jail jumpsuit and handcuffs, Ware said nothing other than "yes, ma'am" and kept his eyes on the floor. He is being held without bond.
Ware's grandmother, Rose Thomas, sat in the courtroom crying.
"He wasn't raised up to do the thing he done," she said after the hearing. "I'm sorry to the gentleman that got killed and his family. I know if I'm hurting like I am, then I know they're hurting."
Police say Forrest, 38, was shot to death July 25 after he chased a man who robbed him of his championship ring and Rolex watch. Police said they believe Ware was responsible for the robbery but they were still looking for the shooter and at least one other suspect.
The investigation continues into the shooting.
Ware's attorney, Curtis Hubbard, said his client is "not guilty until proven guilty." He declined further comment after the hearing.
Ware is scheduled for another court appearance Aug. 19.
Authorities say Ware has been in and out of jail on various charges since 2006. They say he was convicted twice in 2008 — once for credit card theft and fraud and once for receiving stolen property — and sentenced to five years' probation. He was out on bond from a March arrest for obstructing an officer, criminal trespass and other charges when Forrest was shot.
Forrest, a native of Augusta, Ga., who lived in Atlanta, was a member of the 1992 Olympic team along with Oscar De La Hoya. The fighter later won welterweight and junior middleweight titles and compiled a professional record of 41-3 with 29 knockouts.
Some 1,500 friends, family and fellow athletes attended his funeral Monday. Many remembered him as a soft-spoken, modest competitor known more by his work helping others than his victories in the ring.