The Commerce Journal

October 21, 2013

Death penalty waived in capital murder case

By BRAD KELLAR
The Commerce Journal

COMMERCE — Prosecutors have announced they will not be seeking the death penalty if a former local resident is convicted in a pending Hunt County capital murder case.

A trial date was also scheduled Tuesday in the case against George Washington Sharper, charged with capital murder in connection with a 2007 shooting death in Greenville.

Sharper has pleaded not guilty to one count of capital murder involving the death of David Olivares.

A scheduling conference was conducted Tuesday morning before Visiting Judge Joe Clayton of Tyler, who is hearing the case.

Following the hearing, Sharper’s trial was tentatively set for March 24, 2014.

Hunt County District Attorney Noble D. Walker Jr. also issued a written statement, indicating his office would not be seeking death by lethal injection, should Sharper be convicted of capital murder.

If Sharper is found guilty of capital murder, he would automatically be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Sharper and Markus Ladane Stephenson were each indicted in the case.

Stephenson pleaded guilty in February to a reduced charge of murder and was sentenced to 60 years in prison.

Sharper, formerly of Commerce and Stephenson, formerly of Greenville, were alleged in the indictments to have murdered Olivares on or about June 29, 2007 while in the course of committing a burglary of a habitation or robbery.

At approximately 11:20 p.m. that night, officers with the Greenville Police Department received a call of a shooting at 3408 Henderson Street. Olivares, 32, had been shot once in the upper right chest and died as the result of his wound.

Several people lived in the house and claimed that Olivares was sitting in the living room, which had a glass door on one side and was shot from outside, through the door.

Two fires later occurred at the house, including one in September 2007 which destroyed the residence.

Olivares’ death was one of three homicides reported locally between June 29 and July 1, 2007.

Walker filed a motion with the court Aug. 1, giving notice of the prosecution’s intent to use extraneous offenses and prior convictions involving Sharper during the trial.

Sharper and Stephenson were previously charged six years ago in connection with an armed hold-up in Commerce. The pair were among three people arrested on the night of July 23, 2007 after a report of an armed robbery in the 2500 block of Solomon Drive in Commerce, during which eight pairs of athletic shoes and three rings were stolen at gunpoint.

Shoes, rings, two handguns and 11 baggies of what was believed to be crack cocaine were found later that evening inside the vehicle in which they were riding.

Stephenson was also alleged to have threatened a female victim with a handgun while sexually assaulting her.

Under a plea bargain arrangement, Stephenson was later sentenced to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to possessing the cocaine.

Sharper was sentenced to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to multiple charges, including the robbery.