One of the two defendants charged in the beating death of a 90-year-old Carver County man pleaded guilty to second-degree murder last week.
As part the plea agreement struck April 21, 36-year-old Reinol Godines Vergara pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting murder in the second degree in the April 2015 death of Earl Olander in his San Francisco Township farmhouse. In exchange for the plea, a first-degree murder indictment will be dropped.
The second defendant, 31-year-old Edson Celin-Dominguez Benitez, told Judge Michael D. Wentzell he needed more time to consult with his attorney. Carver County Attorney Mark Metz gave Benitez until Friday to take the plea, which is the same agreement as Vergara’s. Metz said he expects Benitez to plea on May 6, when both men are due back in court where they will be sentenced.
“It was painstaking, but we have to be careful and cautious and thoughtful,” he said.
After both men finish their prison sentence, they will be deported to Mexico, Metz added.
Olander was killed after Vergara had recently painted Olander’s house and decided he was “an easy target because he was an old man that lived alone and had money,” charges said. Vergara and Benitez drove from the Twin Cities on April 9 or 10 with the intention of robbing Olander. They entered the unlocked home through the back door and found Olander asleep on a couch, the charges said. Then they covered his head with a blanket and beat him with a shotgun.
Key to the arrests was a tip from a citizen who found two savings bonds issued to Olander inside a large, European-language Bible while cleaning a St. Paul apartment once occupied by Benitez.
Olander, a lifelong bachelor, lived in a home that had been in his family for many decades, on 160 acres about halfway between Chaska and Belle Plaine.