Charlie Oliver, 17, accused of killing his 8-year-old cousin, pleaded guilty to one count of involuntary manslaughter Aug. 28.
Oliver agreed to plead guilty and receive a 10-year sentence for fatally shooting Solomon Zellner in the face July 6, 2011; Oliver was 16 at the time. Police said Oliver told them he was in his room playing with a 9 mm handgun when Zellner entered. He was trying to put the gun away when he said his finger caught the trigger and the gun went off, shooting his younger cousin.
Originally, Oliver faced life in prison and was charged with felony murder and aggravated assault. The murder charge was later reduced to involuntary manslaughter and the aggravated assault charge was dropped.
Ruth McMullin, defense attorney for Oliver, asked the court to consider leniency and allow Oliver to be tried as a “first offender,” which would allow him to have his record expunged after his release from custody.
Assistant District Attorney Darius Pattillo opposed allowing Oliver to be tried as a first offender, stating that Oliver showed “gross recklessness” in pointing the gun, which was fully loaded, at his cousin. DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Cynthia Becker agreed with Pattillo.
Oliver had reportedly moved in with Zellner’s mother Angela Ramos, who thought it would help him curb his misbehavior and delinquency.
“I’m only all right with it because I’ve known him since he was a child,” Ramos said of Oliver’s reduced sentence. “I’m still working on forgiving him."