‘This is an injustice’: Killer with seven previous gun charges who murdered teen sentenced to just 7-9 years

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CHARLOTTE, NC- In February 2017, Carlos Olguin was charged with the murder of Christian Isaac Allen, an East Mecklenburg High School football player.

On Monday, November 1st, Olguin was sentenced to seven to nine years, a plea deal that the victim’s family says is far too lenient. 

Police said that Olguin, an east Charlotte resident with seven previous gun charges, repeatedly shot 18-year-old Allen during a February 19, 2017 party about four miles from the school. 

Olguin, now 27-years-old, was originally charged with first-degree murder, which could have landed him in prison for life. However, on November 1st, prosecutors allowed him to plead guilty to the reduced charge of voluntary manslaughter.

Superior Court Judge Gregory Hayes sentenced him to 80 to 108 months in prison.

Allen’s mother, Beth, said she was so upset after learning of the planned plea deal that she stormed out of a meeting with prosecutors. She said that Olguin’s previous gun charges suggest that he may shoot someone again once he is out of prison. She added:

“I feel that this is an injustice. Someone else is going to be in the position we’re in.”

Emotions ran high in the courtroom during the sentencing. Allen’s father, David loudly shouted:

“Hey Carlos, there’s a special place in hell for people like you. Why do you have to put us through this?”

Nearly a dozen of Allen’s friends and family attended the plea hearing, with several of them telling the judge that they believed Olguin’s sentence was too light. Terra Varnes, the lead prosecutor in the case, told the judge that the trouble at the 2017 house party began when Allen discovered that a bag he had brought, containing marijuana, had disappeared.

Allen then reportedly got into an argument over the missing bag and would up punching two of Olguin’s friends, knocking one of them unconscious. Varnes said that Olguin then fired six shots and four of them hit Allen.

Varnes added that had the case gone to trial, the result would likely have been the same. She said:

“We believe it was very likely a voluntary manslaughter verdict would happen.”

Varnes said that a jury probably would have concluded that Olguin was trying to defend his friends. Olguin said he fired his gun because he was scared. Varnes also noted that Allen was larger and stronger than he was.

Varnes added that had a jury convicted Olguin of voluntary manslaughter, the longest sentence he could have received is the one he just got from the judge. Olguin had rejected an earlier plea offer, which would have kept him in prison for 16 to 20 years.

Olguin’s record is one example of a 2019 Charlotte Observer investigation, entitled “Dismissed,” which revealed how prosecutors in Mecklenburg routinely dismissed weapons charges and how defendants getting those breaks often moved on to worse offenses, including murder.

Allen’s parents have questioned whether their son would be alive today if prosecutors had been tougher with Olguin on previous cases. Prosecutors dismissed most gun charges filed against Olguin before the night Allen died.

Olguin’s first gun crime came in 2011, when he was charged with carrying a concealed gun and possession of a handgun by a minor. The first charge was dismissed. He pleaded guilty to the second and spent 45 days in jail.

Later that year, after a shootout, Olguin was charged with one of the most serious gun offenses, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, inflicting serious injury. Prosecutors dismissed that charge, along with two related weapon charges.

In 2012, Olguin was charged with two more gun crimes, including a felony assault charge that came after a relative claimed Olguin had shot at home. Prosecutors dismissed those charges too. A federal check showed that Olguin bought the handgun used to shoot Allen just nine days before the killing.

Had Olguin actually been convicted of any of the prior felony gun charges, he would not have been able to buy the gun legally. Olguin has been held without bond in the Mecklenburg County Jail since his arrest in 2017. He will get credit for time served.

Allen was a starter on the East Mecklenburg football team and won all-conference awards. He planned to become a police officer. 

Editor note: In 2020, we saw a nationwide push to “defund the police”.  While we all stood here shaking our heads wondering if these people were serious… they cut billions of dollars in funding for police officers. 

And as a result, crime has skyrocketed – all while the same politicians who said “you don’t need guns, the government will protect you” continued their attacks on both our police officers and our Second Amendment rights.

And that’s exactly why we’re launching this national crowdfunding campaign as part of our efforts to help “re-fund the police”.

For those looking for a quick link to get in the fight and support the cause, click here.

Do you want to join our private family of first responders and supporters?  Get unprecedented access to some of the most powerful stories that the media refuses to show you.  Proceeds get reinvested into having active, retired and wounded officers, their families and supporters tell more of these stories.  Click to check it out.

LET Unity

City plans to stop rising murder rate by finding gang members likely to shoot people and paying them not to

October 29th, 2021

FRESNO, CA- A program launched earlier in the year, called Advance Peace Fresno, is reportedly trying to reverse a rising murder rate by offering fellowships to people identified as most likely to be involved in shootings.

The program provides mentoring, job training, and a stipend of up to $1,000 a month in exchange for meeting goals that steer them away from violence, like completing classes or obtaining employment.

An example of an individual being recruited for this program would be 17-year-old Devrick Hill, who was arrested on suspicion of firing multiple firearms out of a car in a conflict between gang members.

Fresno police confirmed that Devrick was arrested earlier this year, but declined to provide details on the status of his case because he was a minor.

Devrick, whose nickname is “D Hill,” said he first turned to gang life in 9th grade after his cousin was killed. He dropped out of school, leaving behind a promising high-school football career.

According to its local program manager, Aaron Foster, after Advance Peace launched in Fresno, it began identifying the most likely shooters with a list from police that included people with recent firearms arrests or those suspected in recent shootings. 

Foster, who used to be an active gang member and whose son and daughter were both shot to death, pored over the list with his employees, all of whom have been in gangs or grew up around them. They now have 19 fellows aged 16 to 25.

The hard part was getting gang members who get respect and money from their status as shooters to join the program. Foster said he called 17-year-old Jaylin Johnson, whose nickname was “Lil Gunna” regularly, but couldn’t get him to commit. In late December 2020, Jaylin was shot and killed.

With Devrick, Foster believed the best approach was to send an employee named Roger Brown, nicknamed Syrup, to recruit him. Devrick is allegedly an aspiring rapper and Syrup is a well-known hip-hop artist in Fresno.

Sine Devrick joined the program five months ago, Syrup has helped him find a place to live, re-enroll in school and join a job-training program. Syrup also brought him into a studio to record a track called “Insecurities.” Devrick said he no longer wants to be known as a shooter, adding:

“When I was younger … I wanted to be called that. Now I’d rather be low-key.”

According to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) data, nationwide, homicides rose nearly 30 percent in 2020 from the year prior. Advance Peace’s fellowship program is now running or set to launch soon in nine additional cities, including: Rochester, NY, Fort Worth, TX, and Sacramento, CA. 

Some law enforcement officials and political leaders have opposed the program. Advance Peace Fresno’s $1.8 million budget comes from the city, state, and nonprofit groups. Garry Bredefeld, a Republican city councilman, voted against funding the program because of the money provided to participants. He said:

“I don’t know why we would give people stipends to do the right thing. That is completely insanity and a misuse of taxpayer funds.”

Jason Corburn, a University of California, Berkeley professor who has evaluated the group’s work in Sacramento and Stockton, CA, said that over the course of an 18-month Advance Peace fellowship, less than $20,000 is typically spent on a cohort of 30 to 50 individuals and an average of 20 to 50 shootings are prevented.

In 2020, there were 732 shootings and 74 murders in Fresno, compared with 374 shootings and 45 murders in 2019. In June, city officials agreed to fund a local Advance Peace program for three years. 

Editor note: In 2020, we saw a nationwide push to “defund the police”.  While we all stood here shaking our heads wondering if these people were serious… they cut billions of dollars in funding for police officers.  And as a result, crime has skyrocketed – all while the same politicians who said “you don’t need guns, the government will protect you” continued their attacks on both our police officers and our Second Amendment rights.

And that’s exactly why we’re launching this national crowdfunding campaign as part of our efforts to help “re-fund the police”.

For those looking for a quick link to get in the fight and support the cause, click here.

Do you want to join our private family of first responders and supporters?  Get unprecedented access to some of the most powerful stories that the media refuses to show you.  Proceeds get reinvested into having active, retired and wounded officers, their families and supporters tell more of these stories.  Click to check it out.

LET Unity

Convicted murderer released from prison in 2020 charged with missing woman’s death

October 18th, 2021

Editor’s note: In 2020, we saw a nationwide push to “defund the police”.  While we all stood here shaking our heads wondering if these people were serious… they cut billions of dollars in funding for police officers.  And as a result, crime has skyrocketed – all while the same politicians who said “you don’t need guns, the government will protect you” continued their attacks on both our police officers and our Second Amendment rights.

And that’s exactly why we’re launching this national crowdfunding campaign as part of our efforts to help “re-fund the police”.

For those looking for a quick link to get in the fight and support the cause, click here.

SUNRISE, FL – A 54-year-old convicted murderer who was released from prison in 2020 reportedly confessed to murdering a 33-year-old woman who’d been missing since late September. Authorities say that the suspect admitted to stabbing the victim four times with a screwdriver.

On October 16th, police charged 54-year-old Eric Pierson with first-degree murder in the killing of 33-year-old Erika Verdecia, whose body was discovered the same day near Fort Lauderdale after having been reported missing for several weeks.

Authorities say that Pierson admitted to murdering Verdecia on September 25th. A statement from the Sunrise Police Department noted that while there is nothing that can be done to bring the victim back, they’re hopeful that Pierson’s reported confession brings closure:

“We now have in custody, Eric Pierson, who has confessed to the murder of Erika Verdecia.  Although this tragic news does not bring Erika back to her family and friends, we hope that it can bring some closure to her loved ones.”

“The Sunrise Police Department thanks the public for their assistance with this case.  We will continue to keep her family and friends in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”

The suspect in the case has been sent to prison twice before, gaining parole for two extremely heinous crimes committed in the 80s and early 90s that was possible due to what some would refer to as the “old code” for parole – an antiquated system where offenders would serve a fraction of their sentences that has since been abandoned and replaced by truth-in-sentencing in Florida.

In 1985, Pierson had broken into a home and slit a woman’s throat. In that case, Pierson was sentenced to 18 years in prison for attempted murder – but was paroled after only serving four years.

Then in 1993, Pierson beat and strangled 17-year-old Kristina Whitaker, where he was convicted of second-degree murder. In that case he was sentenced to 40 years in prison, which he was paroled after serving 27 years and was released in September of 2020.

Even though by the time Pierson was released for the 1993 murder, the “old code” for parole was long since abandoned, the application of truth-in-sentencing could not be legally applied retroactively for cases already adjudicated.

Verdecia’s mother spoke to the South Florida SunSentinel about the case, expressing frustration over the fact that Pierson was free from prison despite his criminal record:

“Why is this guy in the streets? Why?… He’s going to pay this time. We’re not going to stop until we see him in the electric chair.”

Sunrise Police confirmed that they’d had a brief interaction with both Pierson and Verdecia on the day that she was killed during a traffic stop, with police saying that she was a passenger in Pierson’s truck and didn’t seem to be in distress.

While the case was still being treated like a missing person, police had interviewed Pierson to inquire about Verdecia’s whereabouts, where he claimed that he hadn’t seen her since September 25th after Verdecia invited him to a local Wendy’s restaurant, but she never showed up.

Police later received information from Pierson’s girlfriend that led to them discovering the victim’s body in a canal not far from his home.

The suspect’s girlfriend called police on October 15th saying that Pierson would eerily glare at the canal behind their home and say, “damn that bitch stinks” adding that he’d also stated, “if they don’t find a body, they don’t have a case.”

Verdecia’s body was discovered hours later by police in the aforementioned canal after receiving the tip from the suspect’s girlfriend.

 Do you want to join our private family of first responders and supporters?  Get unprecedented access to some of the most powerful stories that the media refuses to show you.  Proceeds get reinvested into having active, retired and wounded officers, their families and supporters tell more of these stories.  Click to check it out.

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Huh? Retired police officer, 70, arrested after refusing to leave her daughter’s side at Florida hospital

(Originally published October 14th, 2021)

JACKSONVILLE, FL – A 70-year-old retired Ohio deputy spent the night in jail after she refused to leave her daughter’s bedside at a Florida hospital.

Lynn Savage’s daughter, Amber, underwent brain surgery at UF Health North in Jacksonville, Florida and because her daughter is non-verbal and partially paralyzed after suffering a stroke, she did not want to leave her side.

The retired Stark County deputy sheriff said that doctors asked her to come into her daughter’s room to help keep her calm:

“As soon as I approached the bedside, she was fine. With all these people talking and all these things going on and she doesn’t understand it and not being able to talk, she was just frantic.”

Savage remained at her daughter’s bedside from 6:30 am on October 4 until a nurse came to tell her visiting hours were ending:

“The nurse said that the visiting hours were over at 7 p.m. and I had to leave. And I said, “I’m not going to leave. I want to stay here with my daughter. Can you call the doctor because the doctor is the one that wanted me here with her?’

“And she said no that they couldn’t do that. The COVID rules said that visiting hours were over at seven and I had to leave.”

The retired deputy dedicated her life to helping others, and now decided it was time for her to help her own:

“I could not in good conscience and good heart leave her bedside, not knowing how she was going to make it through the night voluntarily.”

When Savage refused to leave at 7 p.m., security tried to convince her to leave. When she refused, police were called, and Jacksonville Police Officer B.S. Crocker responded.

In his report, Officer Crocker wrote:

Upon arrival, I met UF Health Security Supervisor Marcus Hardaway. He and other security officers spent a couple of hours pleading for the suspect, Ms. Lynn Savage, to leave because visitation was over at 1900 hours. I then approached Ms. Savage in room #3104, where her daughter was recovering from surgery.

“I explained the reason security called the police for the trespass warning. She understood completely why the police were called. Ms. Savage is a twenty-year retired deputy with the Stark County, Ohio Sheriff’s Office. She stated she understood but would have to be removed by force.”

Savage did not hold the arresting officer responsible for her arrest. She said he was polite and tried to get her to leave voluntarily:

“The sheriff’s office came up. They were also very polite. They kept trying to get me to leave and I said I’m not leaving; I’m not going to leave my daughter’s side.”

Officer Crocker said he placed the retired deputy into custody and escorted her outside. Once outside the hospital, he said he pleaded with the concerned mother to leave and come back in the morning. He wrote:

“Once escorted outside the hospital, I pleaded for Ms. Savage to come to reason, leave and return in the morning when visitation opened at 0900 hours. She refused for the principle that if something happens to her daughter Amber, she was forced to leave her side. Ms. Savage understands (that) trespass is good for one year.”

The elderly mother and retired deputy spend about 24-hours in jail after being booked on trespassing charges. She called the experience “horrible”:

“Not an experience that I would ever want to do again for the rest of my life not ever. It was horrible. It was filthy, it was more like an insane asylum with the women screaming and hollering and banging on bars and banging on walls.

“It was just terrifying, but I would rather be there than know that I had walked away from my daughter.”

UF Health Jacksonville issued a statement trying to justify their actions:

“Due to federal HIPAA privacy laws, we cannot comment on inquiries about specific patients. However, UF Health Jacksonville is dedicated to the well-being and safety of everyone who visits our facilities, especially patients and their families.

“Like health care organizations throughout the country, we have put policies in place to protect everyone from the COVID-19 virus, including patients, visitors and staff. Information about visitation limitations are placed in areas visible to those entering our facilities.”

According to court records, Savage has been charged with misdemeanor trespassing and has pleaded not guilty. Her next court hearing is scheduled for Oct. 20.

Although Amber made it through the night and is recovering, Savage said she did not regret her decision:

“I stand by my actions 100 percent. I am not sorry that I made them take me out of there in handcuffs.”

_

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