VACAVILLE -- "This person will be brought to justice, if that's the last breath in my body."
Fast forward almost three years from when Carmen Ward said those words at a vigil after Demetrious Ward was murdered and she and the rest of her family are just a wake-up away from hearing closing arguments in the case against the gunman suspected of taking his life.
What has this time without him been like?
"A big void," said aunt Carmen.
"Gave me a big hole. It's actually made me a little more angry, just a little angry. Well a lot angry," sighed his father Kevin Ward.
"I would say, painful," said his grandmother Laura Ward.
While time has passed for this family, the pain of missing "Meech" hasn't.
"Demetrious, he made your day. There was no, uh, I get a little teary-eyed when I think about it," said his grandfather Robert Ward.
Much-loved by the community, Meech -- a star Vacaville High running back -- was first loved for 18 years by the family who has now had to spend haunting days in court.
"Just living it all over again, his death," said his grandmother.
They've learned that former girlfriend-turned-just friend Kai Hughes lured Ward to a parking lot to be robbed and killed by people she knew in a nearby apartment.
She and her friend Aimee Sabedra have both taken pleas in the case and offered testimony against accused triggerman Alijondro Jones.
Investigators say the killing was part of a drug deal Ward was working, but with no money taken and less than an ounce of pot left on the seat of his pickup, his family doesn't buy it.
They also say more people are responsible for his death than those charged.
"You provide the weapon that killed my son. You know if you didn't provide that weapon my son wouldn't have been dead right now, so he should get that charge as well," said Kevin Ward.
Alijondro Jones rejected offered deals in this case and pressed to go to trial.
When asked about the progression of the case, his lawyer Dan Russo would only say "it's going to be in the jury's hands tomorrow."
And with a verdict hanging in the balance, the aunt who said she'd never give up the hunt for justice admits her nephew wasn't perfect but deserved to live the life he was getting back on track.
"Set up, by someone he trusted, trusted. That's what gets me. So the only thing I can tell the young kids today -- everybody's not your friend. Pick and choose your friends," said Carmen Ward.
Right before he was killed, Demetrious had just received a report card of all A's.
His family has started a scholarship fund in his honor and his father is organizing a Pop Warner football club in tribute to his son that he hopes to have on the field next fall.