Dallas

Jurors will decide ex-Balch Springs officer Roy Oliver’s punishment in teen’s death

Jurors are expected to decide ex-Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver’s punishment Wednesday for killing 15-year-old Jordan Edwards outside a party last spring.

Oliver, 38, was found guilty of murder on Tuesday for shooting into a vehicle occupied by five African-American teenagers in April 2017. Edwards was shot in the back of his head.

Oliver was in court Wednesday morning wearing a suit and ankle shackles.

Jurors heard Tuesday from Edwards’ teachers and family.

They spoke of a young man who was a leader in the classroom, gifted on the football field and who had an unforgettable smile.

“He was the perfect kid,” his football coach Jeff Fleener said. “That’s the only narrative there is. You couldn’t find anything wrong.”

Edwards and his friends were leaving a house party on April 29, 2017, when shots were fired into the air at a nursing home across the road, unrelated to the teenagers or the party.

Oliver and his partner Officer Tyler Gross tried to stop the vehicle Edwards was sitting in. The driver, Edwards’ stepbrother, said later he was afraid after hearing the shots and tried to leave. Oliver claimed the car was backing up and about to run over Gross, but Gross’ testimony and body camera footage told the opposite story.

Edwards’ last words were a warning for his friends to duck, get down.

Attorneys who have worked with the Edwards family have said Edwards’ innocence and character probably played a large factor in the jury’s decision to convict Oliver.

It took the jury about 12 hours over two days to come to its decision. Jurors asked the judge several questions about Oliver’s testimony throughout their deliberations. Their questions showed that they took Oliver’s testimony as fact, family attorney Jasmine Crockett said.

“A lot of jurors were connecting with him — that concerns me,” she said Tuesday afternoon when asked about the sentencing phase of the trial. “I’m of the opinion that this won’t be a knock out of the park. ... I’m not gonna jinx it.”

Daryl Washington, another attorney for the family, said it’s “my hope and belief that the jury will make the right decision.”

Jurors began hearing defense witnesses Wednesday morning.

By 10 a.m., several people had testified on Oliver’s behalf, including a student who said she was inspired by Oliver to become an officer, two former landlords and an officer currently with the Balch Springs Police Department.

Landlord Paula Mullican said Oliver was kind and helpful and was a “highly respectable man and police officer.”

“Roy is not what he’s portrayed to be,” she said before asking the jury to show him “100 percent leniency.”

She said Oliver is “not a murderer.” During cross examination, she again said, “He did not intentionally murder this young man” as she held a picture of Edwards.

“You are aware a jury found him guilty of murdering that young man, right?” prosecutor George Lewis asked.

“Yes,” she responded.

Prosecutor Michael Snipes later compared Oliver to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Nichole Manna, 817-390-7684, @NicholeManna
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