San Diego

Man Sentenced in 1995 Slaying of Teen Mom, 3 Trials Later

Aswad Walker, 40, is the third and final conviction in the 1995 killing of San Diego mother Crystal Odom, 18

Twenty-three years after the brutal killing of a young mother in San Diego, a man was sentenced for his involvement in the 1995 slaying on Monday.

A jury found Aswad Walker, 40, guilty of second-degree murder and one gang allegation in the fatal shooting of Crystal Odom, 18 in early February. On Monday, March 12, prosecutors confirmed that Walker will spend 18 years to life in prison.

Over the last few years, Walker has been tried three times for the murder but his first two trials each ended with hung juries.

The victim Odom was gunned down on April 29, 1995, in front of her boyfriend and 10-month-old daughter, Aaliyah, in a gang-related shooting in San Diego's Encanto community.

[G] San Diego's Unsolved Cold Cases

That night, Odom and her boyfriend, Curtis Harvey, encountered a group of young men at a gas station: Walker, Samuel Sayles, and Jamar Phillips. Investigators said looks were exchanged between the groups.

Odom, with her baby girl in the car, decided to drive away before pumping any gas. Sayles, who was driving, followed.

He pulled alongside her car at 65th and Akins streets. Prosecutors said someone in Sayles’ car opened fire, striking Odom three times in the head. Harvey drove Odom to her mother’s home where she died a short time later.

Time passed and Odom's case grew cold. It went unsolved for 20 years.

In 2015, a major break finally came: San Diego detectives identified Sayles, Walker and Phillips as the suspects in the killing.

Last year, Sayles, now 41 years old, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. In November 2017, Sayles was sentenced to eight years in prison for aiding and abetting the now-convicted gunman, Walker.

Meanwhile, Phillips, who was a minor at the time of the murder, pleaded guilty in juvenile court and testified at both Walker's and Sayles' trials.

Crystal Odom’s April 1995 murder remains unsolved to this day. Her family says the pain remains as fresh as they day she was killed. NBC 7’s Matt Rascon reports on this cold case on April 29, 2015.

The last three years of trials, convictions and, ultimately, justice, have brought back painful memories of the crime for Odom's family and of the young woman they lost so suddenly.

Odom’s mother, Gloria Jimenez, has said her daughter was a great student who dreamed of someday becoming a probation officer. In 2015, Jimenez told NBC 7 she lives with the pain of losing her daughter every single day.

Odom’s father, James Odom, echoed those feelings and said seeking justice for his daughter was a daily struggle.

“Every day is like the first day,” he said.

Odom’s daughter is now grown and, at a news briefing three years ago, held a poster with a photograph of her slain mother.

With tears in her eyes, Aaliyah begged the world to “stop the violence.”

Riverside County Animal Services
Crystal Odom's daughter holds up a poster of her murdered mother. Odom was killed on April 29, 1995, after being fatally shot while driving in southeastern San Diego. Her daughter -- only 10 months old at the time -- was also in the car, but survived the shooting.
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