A Texas jury late Wednesday reached a decision after a sentencing hearing in the case of former Balch Springs Police officer Roy Oliver. After finding Oliver guilty of murder, the same jury recommended that the ex-cop serve 15 years in prison and pay a $10,000 fine for the shooting death of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards. Jurors delivered their verdict at around 10:40 p.m. Eastern, 9:40 p.m. Central time.
Similar to the guilt phase, jurors sent a note to the judge saying they were deadlocked. He told them to keep deliberating. Later, jurors asked a question about who would be the recipient of any fine they decided to levy against Oliver. The judge told them to reference previous instructions.
Oliver and his partner Officer Tyler Gross had responded to a report of intoxicated juveniles on April 29, 2017. Oliver, taking the stand in his own defense, testified that he and Gross arrived to see a surprisingly large number of teens exiting a house. At one point, Oliver said, he heard what sounded like gunfire from a semiautomatic weapon, as people fled the scene.
After conducting a search of the house, Oliver was outside, when he noticed Gross approaching a vehicle, shouting at it to stop moving. Oliver claimed that at first, the driver was not obeying Gross’ commands, then stopped, only to then move in Gross’ direction. That’s when he fired his weapon. Oliver claimed he was afraid that Gross’ life was in danger, and that’s why he shot at the car, killing Edwards, who was a passenger.
The jury didn’t buy Oliver’s story, as there was plenty of evidence that went against it. Officer Gross himself took the stand earlier in the trial. He said that he did not fear for his life, despite Oliver’s claim that he was afraid for Gross. Not only that, video footage of the incident showed that the car Edwards was in was driving away from Gross, not towards him.
Oliver’s sentencing hearing featured a number of witnesses testifying regarding the characters and histories of both Oliver and Edwards. The defense objected to having Edwards’ teachers testify regarding the teen’s positive attributes, but the judge allowed it.
Aaron Keller contributed to this report.
[Image via screen capture from the Law&Crime Network.]