Gainesville Daily Register

October 9, 2013

Jury still out in Olivas trial

Staff Report

Gainesville — By GREG RUSSELL

grussell@ntin.net

Register Staff Writer



Arguments from defense and prosecution preceded late Wednesday’s tentative status in the murder trial of Juan Manuel Rodriguez-Olivas.

Cooke County District Attorney Janice Warder said that due to a lack of jury deliberation, District Judge Janelle Haverkamp dismissed court for the evening following testimony by witnesses regarding the June 2012 stabbing homicide of Linda Barrett, 22.

A decision may come today, she added.

“We should get something, but you never know about a jury,” Warder said.

Warder also said Wednesday afternoon that the conviction of Olivas appeared uncertain due to complaints by defense attorneys Anthony Lyons and Anthony Farmer that Olivas was improperly searched and arrested during the initial investigation.

“The whole issue at this point is whether or not they want to turn him loose on a technicality,” she said. “But that’s not supplied by the evidence, in my opinion.”

As reported Wednesday

The trial stems from the brutal death of Barrett — allegedly committed by Olivas, reportedly her companion at the time. On June 18, 2012, Gainesville Police Department Public Information Officer Bobby Balthrop reported that at 4:30 p.m. Friday, June 15, 2012, officers received information from an individual concerning the death of an unknown female said to be located somewhere inside a residence on Truelove Street.

The investigation led to the discovery of a deceased white female inside the residence, plus the arrest of a suspect. The suspect, identified as Olivas, age 30 at the time of his arrest and also residing in the Truelove house, was taken into custody and charged with murder. He was later placed in the Cooke County Justice Center, where he stays now.

Warder said Barrett’s body was found in a locked closet at the Truelove Street residence, wrapped in plastic, decomposing and riddled with stab wounds. Dallas Chief Medical Examiner Jeffrey Barnard revealed autopsy diagrams during Tuesday’s installment, indicating no less than 31 wounds ranging from Barrett’s head to her lower body.

This week’s testimony included statements by Rodney Simpson, an acquaintance of Barrett who had a sexual relationship with the victim until late 2010, and a casual relationship through April 2012 — by which time, he said, Barrett was involved with Olivas. The trial also included comments from Carl Wilson, an inmate at Cooke County Justice Center who testified that Olivas admitted to and bragged about Barrett’s murder.

Nonetheless, Olivas entered trial with a plea of “not guilty.” But he has never faced a death penalty if convicted; currently, he faces a prison sentence of 5 to 99 years.

“This doesn’t fit the definition of capital murder,” Warder said Tuesday afternoon. “In a capital murder, you have to have at least one of the aggravating factors and those are usually murders that also include robbery or rape.”