DECATUR, Ga. (CBS46) A former DeKalb County district attorney tells CBS46 News the split verdict in the Robert Olsen trial gives a clear indication that jurors reached a compromise to bring the case to a conclusion.
“There is no reason to believe that the jury didn’t hear everything about this case that they needed to hear,” said Bob Wilson, who was DeKalb County’s top prosecutor from 1980 to 1992.
On Monday, the jury acquitted Olsen, 57, of two felony murder charges, but convicted him of four other felony counts, including aggravated assault, for the 2015 shooting death of unarmed veteran Anthony Hill. Hill was naked and having a mental episode when he came toward Olsen and would not comply with Olsen’s commands to stop.
The four felony convictions come with the possibility of several years of prison time. During the reading of the verdicts, Olsen’s wife sobbed uncontrollably and was escorted out of the courtroom.
“I am sure on one hand, Mr. Olsen and his wife feel that they have lost terribly,” Wilson said. “On the other hand, I can see where the victim’s family feels that they have lost terribly. The jury was fully aware there were two sides to this case.”
Wilson said it’s clear from the 27 hours the jury spent deliberating that they took their job seriously.
“The verdict is somewhat inconsistent with itself; guilty of [sic] aggravated assault, but not guilty of felony murder,” Wilson said,” but such is the nature of complicated cases and compromise verdicts.”
After the verdict, reporters got some insight into the deliberations from Juror #31 who asked to remain anonymous. He said he and most other African-Americans on the jury wanted to convict Olsen on the murder charges, but some of the others on the jury weren’t budging. He felt a compromise was the best way to maintain control of the outcome.
“I didn’t want it to go to a mistrial where another jury gets selected,” said the juror. “I don’t know who the next jury may be. It may be a brother on there. It may not be a brother on there.”
The judge could sentence Olsen to anything from probation to 35 years in prison.
Wilson said his best guess is that Olsen will not walk free.
“I believe that it will result in some reasonable amount of prison time,” said Wilson.
The sentencing hearing is scheduled for November 1.
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