DALLAS - Jurors sentenced ex-Balch Springs Officer Roy Oliver to 15 years in prison and ordered him to pay a $10,000 fine for the murder of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards.
The jury began deliberating Wednesday afternoon just before 4 p.m. on how many years the convicted former police officer would spend in prison for murder. They reached their sentence verdict shortly before 10 p.m.
Roy Oliver is now a convicted felon and in the custody of the state. He was booked into the Dallas County Jail Tuesday night.
The jurors who convicted him of murdering 15-year-old Jordan Edwards heard from family, friends and fellow soldiers of Oliver on Wednesday. Their plea was for leniency and mercy.
Roy Oliver shot the unarmed teen to death outside a party in April 2017 after responding to reports of underage drinking. The jury convicted him of murder after about 12-13 hours of deliberation.
Testimony in the punishment phase began on Tuesday and ended on Wednesday for the former cop. Roy’s defense team called up several witnesses to talk about his character.
Balch Springs Police Officer Raymond Kener testified that he would “walk through hell with Oliver.” He said he didn’t agree with the verdict and that “no officer wants to kill someone.”
Another fellow officer, David Fields, said Oliver was one of the people he always wanted to work around. But under cross-examination, Fields admitted it is possible to say Oliver is like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
After the verdict came down Tuesday, the trial quickly moved to the punishment phase that continued into Wednesday night. Prosecutors called on witnesses and described Oliver as “evil.”
Jordan’s stepmother, Charmaine Edwards, addressed the jury directly.
“I’m forever grateful that you all saw in your hearts to see that it was wrong, and I thank you,” she said. “Because it doesn’t bring Jordan back, but we have some kind of closure.”
Roy’s common-law wife, Ingrid Llerena, testified through an interpreter. She is a native of Ecuador and English is not her first language. She sobbed as defense attorney Bob Gill showed jurors pictures and asked her questions about her 3-year-old son, who has autism. The judge had to call a brief recess so she could compose herself and finish answering questions.
Roy’s mother, Linda Oliver, also got emotional when talking about his childhood and military service. She described him as a family man and wonderful father and pleaded the jury to give Roy the minimum sentence.
"I would ask you to consider his son. My son was raised with a father in prison and deservedly so. That man deserved to be in prison. And I know how hard it is to be a single mother,” Linda said. “I believe that my son is the more responsible of the two parents, especially when it comes to Tom's needs and the affliction. But Tom, with his special needs, he is a daddy's boy."
Roy wiped tears as his mother testified about him being dyslexic and talking about his kids.
There was a tense exchange between Linda and Prosecutor Shawnkeedra Martin during cross-examination.
“Odell and Charmaine will never get that privilege of seeing Jordan again,” Martin said.
“I accept that,” Linda said. “I think we’re all living in our own version of hell.”
Tears streaked Shaunkeyia Stephens’ face when she testified. She is Jordan’s birth mother. She wants the maximum sentence for the convicted ex-officer.
“My soul has been vexed with tremendous, tremendous pain,” Stephens said. “Jordan has been given a life in heaven, and I pray that Roy Oliver is given a life in prison. It’s only fair.”
A half-dozen other people were called by the defense testifying to Roy’s good, compassionate, kind, giving side. It was in contrast to the characterization of Prosecutor Mike Snipes as an out-of-control time bomb that exploded 16 months ago when Roy Oliver fired five rounds from his patrol rifle at a moving car carrying teenagers.
Wendi Oliver is Roy’s half-sister. She was one of two rebuttal witnesses called by the state and described Roy as “trash.” While clearly estranged from her brother, her Facebook message to Charmaine Edwards, Jordan’s stepmother, became part of the story.
“I sent her a message saying that I hope justice is served in this case, and I hope he gets what he deserves because he took an innocent life,” Wendi recalled.
Rebuttal witness Reverend Martin Dorsey is the Edwards’ family pastor. He said it should end with the jury having the last word.
“This is the verdict America needed,” he said. “So that we can find now that all lives matter.”
In closing arguments, both sides making their final pitch to the jury.
Defense attorney Bob Gill asked the jury of ten women and two men to consider what's called "sudden passion," a crime committed in the heat of the moment. It would carry a lighter sentence.
“What was Roy Oliver's motive? Was it vengeance? Was it hatred? It wasn’t any of those things,” Gill said. “His motive was to protect his partner.”
Lead prosecutor Mike Snipes asked the jury for a verdict of no less than 60 years.
“This guy is dangerous. He’s out of control. He’s angry,” he said. “And of you don’t protect society against him, it's on you.”
Roy Oliver was facing up to 99 years in prison. His defense team says they’ve already begun their process to appeal his murder conviction. He'll be eligible for parole in 7.5 years.