KBTX | Bryan & College Station, TX | Aggieland News

Olsen Heads to Death Row After Westbrook Murder Trial

By: Mike George & Steve Fullhart Email
By: Mike George & Steve Fullhart Email

Tuesday he was sentenced to death for the murder of his elderly neighbor. Wednesday Christian Olsen was moved out of the Brazos County Jail to death row in the state prison system.

All of this comes after a jury of eight women and four men arrived at a unanimous verdict of death by lethal injection. This followed eight days of testimony and three hours of closing arguments Tuesday morning.

The verdict prompts an automatic appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Olsen, 21, was found guilty on February 18 of killing Etta Jean Westbrook, 68, then stealing and using her credit card, all in early June 2007. Because the murder happened during the commission of another crime, Olsen was eligible for the death penalty.

For a review of the most comprehensive coverage of the Olsen murder trial, including extended video clips from testimony in the case, check out the live blog section here at KBTX.com.

During the closing arguments Tuesday morning, the defense asked the jury to consider Olsen's relationship with Kelly Sifuentez, a woman more than 20 years his elder. They argued that Sifuentez, now 42, manipulated him into a life of crime which including a second murder he has yet to stand trial for: Sifuentez's mother, Geraldine Lloyd.

Sifuentez and Olsen met when she was 36 and he was 14, according to testimony.

The prosecution's arguments focused on Olsen's past criminal history including theft and lying at the age of 10, years prior to Sifuentez coming into his life. They also claimed he would present a danger to others if he is allowed to live in prison.

The jury decided that Olsen would, indeed, be a future danger to others he would come in contact with, and that there were no mitigating circumstances to warrant his life being spared.

"The bottom line to this whole thing is just that there's no winners here," said defense attorney Billy Carter after the punishment was reached. "It's a sad, tragic case for everybody concerned. It's a case that we'll take with us forever."

When the judge adjourned the court, Olsen began crying as Carter held him. Olsen only bowed his head as the jury's decision was read.

Afterwards, Olsen's adoptive parents followed him into a side room. Crying could be heard through the door.

"You never feel good when this becomes necessary," First Assistant District Attorney Shane Phelps said, "but we do know that the verdict is going to keep our community safe, and that's the most important thing."

The Westbrook children, all of whom testified during the proceedings, said afterwards that they thought the jury had rendered a fair verdict, and thanked the Bryan Police Department and the District Attorney's office for their work.

"My mother was a Christian lady," said Debra Kette, Westbrook's daughter. "Justice was done, and she would want us to move on and enjoy life."

Jury foreman Michael Irwin discussed the task he and his fellow jurors were faced with over the three weeks of the trial.

It's been heck, to say it nicely," Michael Irwin said. "A lot of us have had trouble dealing with it. I know I've had problems with it. It's kept me up at night. Now that it's over, I'm glad, but it's still going to be in the back of my mind, especially the pictures I had to look at and everything else that we had to see and do."

Olsen and Kelly Sifuentez are also charged with killing Sifuentez's mother, Geraldine Lloyd. The state has yet to determine if they will try Olsen for that crime.


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