EAU CLAIRE (WQOW) - There were heavy hearts and frustrations that filled an Eau Claire County courtroom Friday, as a member of the Latin Kings was sentenced for the murder of an Eau Claire man.
"We like to think here in Eau Claire we are relatively safe and free from gang, drug-related violence, and we may be a little naïve sometimes about that," said Judge Michael Schumacher.
Juan Olivarez, one of two Latin Kings gang members from Chicago, learned his fate Friday after pleading guilty to the murder of Edwin Garcia-Smith. As we've reported, Olivarez and Joe Moya were charged in the shooting death of Garcia-Smith. It happened in March 2020 at Garcia-Smith's apartment on Kappus Drive, off Golf Road.
"You murdered him," said James Garcia-Smith, Edwin's brother. "You took his children and left them without a father. You murdered him in front of his one-month-old daughter and two sons not less than a couple feet from them."
Friday, Judge Schumacher sentenced Olivarez to 19 years in prison, acknowledging the seriousness of this crime, but noting he was likely not the man to pull the trigger.
Olivarez did speak about his troubled past on the streets and surrounding violence. He said he understands an apology won't change what happened.
"I really hope that one day you can find it in your hearts to forgive me," said Olivarez.
The second gang member, Moya, also pleaded guilty to murder and other crimes. He's scheduled to be sentenced June 10.