A San Patricio County jury has returned a guilty verdict against David Strickland for the 2012 shootings that killed Mollie Olgin and critically wounded Kristene Chapa. Prosecutors were not pursuing the death penalty, therefore the defendant was given an automatic life sentence.
Following the verdict, Kristene Chapa spoke to KRIS 6 News. “I was very shocked at first. I didn’t know what to expect exactly, I was hoping that they (the jury) would see all the evidence that we had and they would go our way. (It was) very emotional.. I wanted to just burst out in tears,” said Chapa.
She told reporter Caroline Flores that she’ll always carry the mental and physical scars of the attack and suffer from the loss of her girlfriend, Mollie. Megan Olgin, Mollie’s sister, said, “She was only 19. She didn’t get to live her life. He took that away from her.” Olgin went on to say, “I’m just happy that it’s finally over. The jury saw the evidence and now finally there’s justice. It doesn’t bring her back. But at least he can pay for what he did.”
Mollie and Kristene were approached by a masked man in the middle of the night in June 2012. He ordered Kristene to place duct tape over her girlfriend’s eyes, then did the same to her, before sexually assaulting both, and shooting them in the head. It was hours later when a couple out for a birdwatching trip found the couple. Mollie Olgin could not be saved, but Kristene underwent years of intense therapy to get back to where she is now.
In closing arguments, Strickland’s attorneys tried to convince the jury that the first suspect in the case was the gunman, claiming there was more evidence indicating he was involved, not Strickland. There was also more commentary about the police interrogation video in which the defendant admitted to the crimes, then told a Texas Ranger he was making it all up. Attorneys also cast doubts on the handling of evidence in the case, highlighting that officers in Portland were fired or demoted as a result of the investigation.
The Prosecution countered with an admission that the first suspect was a strongly considered, until a letter was dropped off two years after the shootings. The letter contained details never released to the public. The fact that portions of the letter were found on Strickland’s personal computer left little doubt as to the origins. A ballistics expert also told the court that bullet fragments found at the crime scene match samples taken from Strickland’s .45 caliber Glock.
Kirstene Chapa was the last to testify, stating she was convinced Strickland is the person who attacked her and Mollie Olgin in June 2012 at Violet Andrew Park in Portland, Texas. However, there was testimony that she did not identify Strickland in a photo lineup provided by officers.
Prosecutors acknowledge that may appear to be a weak link in their case, but point out the attacker was reportedly wearing a mask, plus Chapa suffered a traumatic brain injury from being shot in the head. An attorney stated Chapa was doing everything she could to help investigators find the person who killed her lover and left her for dead.
Although talking about some of the details about that night was difficult for her, Chapa says it didn’t bother her to face Strickland in court. When asked why, Chapa responded, “Because he’s a coward.” she went on to say, “David Strickland put his head down and wouldn’t look at me, so what does that mean to you? Did you see him in the courtroom? He didn’t do anything.”