CHASKA, MN (WCCO) — Two Twin Cities men will each spend 37 years in prison for the death of a Carver County farmer. Earl Olander, 90, was beaten to death last April.
On Friday, a judge sentenced 36-year-old Reinol Vergara and 30-year-old Edson Benitez after they pleaded guilty to beating him. The men were sentenced back-to-back at the Carver County courthouse in Chaska.
Vergara entered his plea deal last month while Benitez made his Friday. Vergara first met earl Olander when he painted his house in 2014. The next time he’d return on April 8 last year, it would be with duct tape and a shotgun to rob the man.
Family and friends of Olander told the courtroom how life has never been the same since Olander’s death.
“This senseless act inflicted a type of terror no one should have to endure,” family member Paul Lundquist said.
Vergara pleaded guilty to second degree murder last month, after Olander was found dead in his home with four blunt force trauma wounds to his body, and bound by duct tape around his hands and ankles.
“And for what? What was the point of murdering a great guy who never hurt a soul?” family member Craig Rothfusz said.
Before Vergara was sentenced, 30-year-old Edson Benitez from St. Paul also appeared in court. He pleaded guilty to assisting in second degree murder, taking the same plea deal as Vergera.
“God teaches us to forgive. Perhaps someday, but not today,” Lundquist said.
Benitez and Vergara will spend over 37 years in prison for what the judge called a cruel crime.
“The actions of the defendant have caused a tremendous amount of pain in my life, and many others. I would not want another family ” family member Mary Rothfusz said. “The plea agreement will not bring Earl back, but it will make the defendant pay consequences for his evil actions.”
Before each of their sentencings, both men told the family and friends of Olander they were sorry. The prosecutor said it’s likely they will both be deported once they finish sentences.
*It should be noted that aside from local coverage, this story has received no attention from the national media.