Monday, October 27, 2014

Dad convicted of capital murder for stabbing-arson deaths of 13-month-old son and his mother; wanted to avoid child support (For Worth, Texas)

A fairly timely update to a case we have been following since 2011. Dad THOMAS OLIVAS was convicted of capital murder in the deaths of his 13-month-old son and the baby's mother--and all because he wanted to avoid child support.

Bedford man convicted of capital murder for killing a girlfriend and their son

Posted Thursday, Oct. 02, 2014

By Mitch Mitchell

FORT WORTH — A Bedford man whose life got complicated because he had children with two girlfriends was convicted of capital murder Thursday for killing one of the women and their son.

Thomas Olivas, 31, was automatically sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for fatally stabbing former girlfriend Mechelle Gandy, 26, of Arlington, and then setting her apartment on fire, which killed their 13-month-old son, Asher Olivas, on March 20, 2011.

Olivas knew that Gandy had been in touch with the Texas attorney general’s office to try to get him to pay child support for Asher, and he was about to be forced to take a paternity test, prosecutor Kevin Rousseau told jurors during the trial that began Sept. 9.

Also, Gandy forwarded nude pictures of Olivas to Rebeca Raudry, the mother of Olivas’ other child, and Raudry confronted Olivas about the pictures, Rousseau said. Olivas told Raudry that Gandy must have hacked his phone and sent the pictures, but Raudry said she didn’t believe him, so Olivas threw her and her two children out of the house in the middle of the night, Rousseau said.

These events infuriated Olivas, but there was no reason to kill Asher, Rousseau said.

“There are two human beings who have been erased from the face of the planet,” Rousseau said. “That baby could have never pointed a finger at anybody. He owed that baby money. Don’t let him go.”

On the night of March 20, 2011, emergency responders to a fire call at apartments in the 2200 block of President’s Corner Drive in north Arlington quickly found Gandy, who had been stabbed several times. Several hours later, they found Asher in the debris near his burned up crib. He died of burns, the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office reported.

“This man called Asher ‘the devil’s child’ and repeatedly asked Mechelle to get an abortion, to destroy Asher,” said prosecutor Tamla Ray. “He claimed to acknowledge Asher as his son but didn’t want Asher to have his last name.”

Prosecutors were not seeking the death penalty.

Olivas’ attorneys said no physical evidence tied him to the two deaths. The indictment against Olivas was a result of tunnel vision by investigators who failed to develop alternative theories or suspects in these murders, according to Joetta Keene and Tim Moore.

Keene said investigators could have built a case against Raudry just as easily as they built a case against Olivas using circumstantial evidence and innuendo. Burglars could have come into Gandy’s apartment and set the fire to destroy evidence, Keene said. Gandy’s wallet was missing and there were pry marks on the back door of her apartment, Keene said.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the presumption of innocence alone is enough to exonerate Thomas,” Keene said.