Christopher Spence was a talented all-city linebacker at Frankford High School, a 20-year-old with a lot of friends and family who loved him.

But at 1:30 a.m. Feb. 19, he was underage in what some in Frankford have called a nuisance bar, hit on the wrong woman, then picked a fight with a guy with a gun.

On Wednesday, Tyrese Ford, 19, identified by witnesses as the guy with the gun who shot the unarmed Spence once in the chest, was ordered to face trial on murder charges by Municipal Court Judge Patrick F. Dugan.

The only witness called by Assistant District Attorney Brendan O'Malley was Latoya Lofton, 21, a friend of Spence's, who testified that she sat near him and Ford when the fatal encounter began - and ended.

Lofton testified that the bar was crowded that night at T&T Lounge at Hawthorne and Margaret Streets when she heard the man she later identified as Ford turn to Spence, grab his hand, and warn, "Don't touch her butt."

"You don't know me, so don't put your hands on me," Spence replied, according to Lofton.

Ford lifted his shirt to show the butt of a gun tucked in his waistband and, according to Lofton, upped the ante, telling Spence, "I don't fight."

Spence replied by swinging and punching Ford in the face. Lofton said Ford stumbled, steadied himself, and shot Spence in the chest, dropping him to the floor, and then fled the bar with the gun pointed in the air.

Lofton said she cradled Spence on the barroom floor as they waited for help and cried out to the fleeing shooter: "You don't have to go that far. It could have been stopped right here. It wasn't serious."

Defense attorney Kenneth Alan Young cited Lofton's description of events - that Spence appeared to be the aggressor - and argued to the judge that Ford should be held on nothing more serious than third-degree murder.

But Dugan, without comment, ordered Ford to face trial on a general charge of murder, which will leave the jury to decide the degree of murder.

Contact staff writer Joseph A. Slobodzian at 215-854-2985 or jslobodzian@phillynews.com.