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Marvin, Sr. was charged with murder, but on September 20, 1984, he was allowed to plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter, a plea bargain allowed based on his age (70), the physical assault and the drugs in his son’s system.
He appeared before Judge Gordon Ringer on November 2 for sentencing.
“This is one of those terribly tragic cases in which a young life was snuffed out,” Ringer said. “But under the circumstances it seems to be agreed by everybody, including the very able and experienced investigating officers in this case, that the young man who died tragically provoked this incident, and it was all his fault.”
Marvin, Sr. was given an opportunity to speak. He said, “If I could bring him back, I would. I was afraid of him. I thought I was going to get hurt. I didn’t know what was going to happen… I’m really sorry for everything that happened.”
Ringer ordered a six-year suspended sentence and five years of probation. He banned Gay from drinking or owning a gun.
Gay, Sr. moved into the Inglewood Retirement Home. Alberta divorced him, after 49 years. She died of bone cancer three years after the slaying. Marvin, Sr. died of pneumonia in 1998. Their son Frankie died of a heart attack in 2001.
Gaye died without a will, so his estate was of no benefit to his three children.
He still owed Anna Gordy Gaye $293,000 and the government $1.6 million in back taxes. His record royalties gradually paid down those debts while Motown and CBS fought in the courts over rights to Gaye’s unreleased recordings.
Gaye wrote or recorded more than 200 songs, and 66 of them were Billboard hits. In 1987, he was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
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