December 1, 2023


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I informed the court docket that I didn’t kill the boy. I used to be mendacity down

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Ronald Olivier mugshot and childhood photo

The primary time I stood in court docket and answered questions on what occurred on Christmas Day 1991, my voice was sturdy.

I stated: “Harmless.” I admitted I used to be there on the bus cease subsequent to Popeyes on Canal Road, however I denied having a gun. I stared into the eyes of the Orleans Parish Lawyer Basic and informed him that I knew nothing concerning the homicide of the fourteen-year-old boy.

I used to be mendacity down.

Ronald Olivier mugshot and childhood photo
On the left, a photograph of Ronald Olivier from 1993. On the best, Ronald “Ronnie Slim” Olivier is about 15 years previous.
Ronald Olivier

I nonetheless keep in mind every part about that night time. Like how nice it felt to be outdoors with my buddy Leeki, after spending the entire day within the eighth District with my household.

I used to be sixteen on the time, younger sufficient for my mom to nonetheless suppose I used to be the hardworking, clean-living child I pretended to be, however sufficiently old to know that my true colours had been found on the streets.

At house I used to be simply Ronnie, however on the streets I used to be Ronnie Slim. There—major jacket on my again, my .38 Particular tucked into my waistband—I felt alive.

About 9 o’clock on Christmas Day, Leckie and I had been on Canal Road. I used to be speaking to a lady for a couple of minutes when Leckie informed me there was a gaggle of men gazing us. There have been ten of them, and within the center was Doki, somebody we each had a historical past with. Lecky stated we must always depart.

He was older than me, and although I did not prefer it, I knew he was proper.

We walked.

Comply with.

I reached for my weapon, considering that in the event that they knew I had it, they could suppose twice earlier than beginning one thing, however Leckie stopped me. He rushed me to the bus station the place we might mix in with the small crowd of ready individuals.

The bus got here inside seconds. He was not approaching the Eighth Ward, however as he approached, Leckie started transferring in the direction of the doorways with the remainder of the individuals.

“It is not ours,” I stated.

He glanced over his shoulder. “We must always get it anyway.”

I turned again and noticed Ducky and the others crossing the road in the direction of us. Leckie was proper, however I did not wish to push ahead the way in which he did. I will wait my flip in the back of the road. No means did I would like Ducky to suppose I used to be working scared.

One in every of my ft was on the doorstep of the bus once I felt a hand on my proper shoulder. He grabbed my jacket, spun me round, and walked me again towards the sidewalk.

I virtually tripped however managed to regain my stability. After I rotated, I noticed all ten males standing there. Ducky did not catch me, however there was a child I did not acknowledge. Ducky stood proper subsequent to him, her eyes blazing. The opposite eight had been standing within the again. In the event that they pose a menace, I will cope with them subsequent.

I pulled out my gun. Shoot the child who caught me first. She then turned to Ducky and shot him a number of occasions. I went again to the child and fired the remaining bullet.

I appeared on the different eight who had been with them. They had been immobile.

I hopped again on the bus and appeared for Leckie. He was sitting within the again and shouting on the driver to go.

Another person was screaming too. An previous man sits within the foreground. “They tried to rob you, child. I noticed all of it!”

As we walked away, I informed myself the identical factor, that I used to be harmless, that I had acted in self-defense. However I knew the reality. I knew I used to be the aggressor, and that it was on me.

What I did not know was the injury I left behind. I doubted I killed Duque or the opposite man. In my neighborhood, I noticed lots of people capturing and dwelling to proudly show their wounds. And each time I fired my little .38, there was both no bullet in it or I fully missed my goal.

However I used to be afraid, afraid that Ducky would come to my home and take revenge on my household.

The subsequent day, I used to be watching the native tv information once I stumbled on a reporter standing on Canal Road, throughout the highway from the place the bus had stopped. Behind him was police tape, describing precisely what occurred.

Solely, it wasn’t the identical model I used to be telling myself. The reporter wasn’t speaking about an tried theft, he was speaking a few homicide. Of the 2 individuals who had been shot, one – Ducky – was in crucial situation and the opposite died.

I used to be stunned, however a part of me was a little bit skeptical too. The TV information handled what occurred on the streets like unhealthy leisure, and I used to be by no means certain they had been telling the reality about who was alive and who was useless. However I used to be curious.

I used to be assured too. And each time I acquired into hassle with the police, I used to be despatched away with nothing worse than just a few sturdy phrases. I used to be nonetheless sixteen years previous, a minor within the eyes of the regulation.

So I went to the police. I informed them my story concerning the tried theft and assumed I might be house the identical day.

It did not work out that means.

Ronald Olivier Angola Bunk and Son
On the left, Ronald Olivier performs together with his son. On the best, Ronald visits his final mattress earlier than his launch from Angola jail.
Ronald Olivier

Months later I used to be in court docket, mendacity to everybody about what occurred. I used to be on trial for first-degree homicide, with twelve individuals deciding my destiny. In the event that they discover me responsible, I’ll get the loss of life penalty.

Whereas the jury was deliberating, I sat alone within the holding cell. I used to be terrified, however by some means I remembered one thing my mom had informed me years earlier than.

“You recognize, honey, should you get into an actual drawback, the sort that I can not get you out of, you may all the time name on Jesus.”

The reminiscence was quick, however the influence of Mama’s phrases was huge.

I rolled onto my knees. Tears had been instantly protecting my face, pooling on the concrete flooring. It was exhausting to combat by the sobs and drive air into my lungs.

However I used to be praying. Someplace, from the deepest a part of me, the phrases had been screaming: “Lord, should you do not allow them to kill me, I’ll serve you for the remainder of my life.”

I quickly felt at peace. I did not know if I might be launched or despatched to jail for a while, however I knew I might be okay. I knew it the way in which you understand that whenever you’re underwater, all you need to do is break the floor to breathe once more.

An hour later, I returned to the courtroom to listen to the jury’s verdict. I used to be not discovered responsible of first diploma homicide, however they discovered me responsible of second diploma homicide. I escaped the loss of life penalty however was sentenced to life in jail with out probation or parole. I’ll spend each remaining second of my life behind bars.

It appeared to me that there was not a lot distinction between my life sentence and the loss of life sentence from which I had escaped, however I didn’t spend a lot time interested by it. I used to be scheduled to serve my sentence at Louisiana State Penitentiary, identified to the world as Angola, one of many worst prisons within the nation. For a child like me, survival was a each day battle.

Within the first years of my sentence, that is all I did: survive.

Slowly, issues modified. I met good individuals who took care of me, a lot of whom had been monks, chaplains and different prisoners whose lives had been modified for the higher.

They inspired me to take public talking lessons, get my GED, go to Bible school, and be taught every part I might from the regulation library. Largely, they confirmed me what it means to reside proper: to forgive, to like, to serve, and to be a follower of Jesus.

And so, that prayer that I used to be crying on the ground of the cell got here again to me. My very own life has modified. I gave up the particular person I needed to be as a way to survive on the streets. I’ve develop into the person I imagine I used to be created to be. Ronald Olivier, not Ronnie Slim.

For all of the programs I accomplished and the packages I helped present, there was one a part of my transformation and therapeutic that would not be accomplished in jail. One half I needed to wait patiently for because the years glided by.

I needed to speak to the mom of the boy I killed and inform her I used to be sorry.

Ronald Olivier
Ronald Olivier is the writer of 27 Summers: My Journey to Freedom, Forgiveness, and Redemption Throughout My Time in Angola Jail. He served twenty-seven summers on the infamous Louisiana State Penitentiary, generally known as Angola. He was launched in 2018 and have become a consumer of the Louisiana Parole Venture.
Thomas Nelson

It took over twenty-five years in jail earlier than I had this chance. The chance got here when the Supreme Court docket dominated that sentencing a minor to life imprisonment was unconstitutional. I had the chance to go earlier than a state and appellate decide to develop into eligible for parole.

As quickly as she entered the courtroom, she acknowledged the boy’s mom. My lawyer requested the prosecutor if I might speak to her, and she or he finally got here and sat within the row behind me. Her arms had been folded. Right here eyes are like metal.

I took a deep breath. The one time you heard me communicate was throughout the trial, twenty-five years in the past, the day I lied and denied every part.

Now I needed to do what I might to right it.

“Ma’am…” I felt my voice trembling inside me. I felt dizzy, as if the air was skinny. “Ma’am, I take full duty to your son’s loss of life.”

All the things else light into the background. The noise of the courtroom, the sting of the metallic on my wrists and ankles, and even the prosecutor sitting subsequent to her. None of it held any curiosity for me. None of that issues. The one factor I can concentrate on is her. The mom who prompted her grief. The mom who killed her son.

I attempted to maintain speaking, however I began crying as a substitute. I attempted to cease and let myself communicate, however nothing would cease my tears. By the blur, I might see her crying too.

“It was silly,” I stated once I lastly caught my breath. “It was silly. I used to be so impulsive. I wasn’t considering. I simply reacted. It wasn’t presupposed to occur. Ma’am, I am simply asking you to forgive me. I pray you could by some means discover someplace in “Your coronary heart. Forgive me.”

She checked out me. “I do not hate you. However what you probably did modified my life fully. Do you know that my son was killed? However I forgive you.”

Lots has modified since that day. I’m a free man. My spouse and I’ve a son. I labored as a chaplaincy director at a state jail. Now I’ve a job serving to previously incarcerated individuals create new lives. I’ve a mortgage. Cellphone. canine. I do know I am forgiven.

I’m. forgiven.

I’m a free man.

Ronald Olivier is the writer of 27 Summers: My Journey to Freedom, Forgiveness, and Redemption During My Time in Angola Prison. He served twenty-seven summers on the infamous Louisiana State Penitentiary, generally known as Angola. He was launched in 2018 and have become a consumer of the Louisiana Parole Venture. In 2020, lower than two years after leaving Angola, Ronald was employed because the chaplaincy director on the Mississippi State Penitentiary. In 2023, Ronald returned to the Louisiana Parole Venture as a consumer advocate, utilizing his expertise to information different previously incarcerated individuals towards profitable careers and lives. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, together with his spouse and son.

All opinions expressed on this article are the writer’s personal.

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