(KMSP) - Two men who pled guilty to taking part in the murder of a 90-year-old bachelor farmer in Carver County last year are headed to prison for at least 25 years, then they’ll be deported to Mexico.
Reinol Vergara and Edson Benitez were both offered the same plea deal: aiding and abetting 2nd degree murder. Vergara pled guilty two weeks ago, while Benitez wanted more time to think it over. Benitez entered his plea Friday afternoon.
Both men were sentenced Friday after hearing statements from the victim's family.
90-year-old Earl Olander was found dead in his home in April 2015 by a neighbor. Several weeks later, a bit of lucky evidence led investigators to Vergara and Benitez. A bible with Olander’s name inside was found in an apartment one of the men had just vacated.
“You can’t think of someone more innocent than Earl Olander and for such a good man to have his life ended like it did is simply not right or fair,” Carver County Attorney Mark Metz said in court before the sentencing.
“After hearing this news I couldn’t speak, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think,” Olander’s niece Mary Rothfusz said. “What had happened to my uncle Earl Olander was pure evil.”
Vergara and Benitez both explained what happened, but both blamed each other for the murder. They both said they’d gone to Olander’s house expecting he’d have money and valuables. Vergara had painted buidings at both Olander’s house and at a neighbors. The Bible and some silverware was all they took, but left the house torn apart.
“I never thought it would come to this you know,” Benitez told Olandar’s family through an interpretor. “And I’d like to say I’m sorry for what happened.”
“I know it will be very difficult to forgive me,” Vergara told them, also through an interpretor. “And I have to pay for what I did and hopefully the Lord gives you that peace.”
“God teaches us to forgive,” Paul Lundquist had said to the men earlier. “Perhaps someday but not today."