JUDGE

Driver in 1995 Slaying of Young Mother in Encanto Sentenced to 8 Years in Prison

Samuel Sayles, now 40 years old, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and a gang allegation in the April 29, 1995, shooting death of Crystal Odom

The driver in a gang-related car-to-car shooting in Encanto in 1995 that killed a young mother in front of her boyfriend and 10-month-old daughter was sentenced today to eight years in state prison.

Samuel Sayles, now 40, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and a gang allegation in the April 29, 1995, shooting death of 18-year-old Crystal Odom.

Superior Court Judge Eugenia Eyherabide sentenced Sayles to the maximum term under the law for aiding and abetting the alleged gunman, Aswad Walker.

Two men accused of first-degree murder in a cold case dating back to 1995 pleaded not guilty at their arraignment Friday. NBC 7’s Artie Ojeda reports.

Walker, also 40, has been tried twice for murder, with each trial ending in a hung jury. He faces a third trial Jan. 17.

A third defendant, Jamar Phillips, pleaded guilty in Juvenile Court and testified in both trials.

The case went unsolved until 2015, when detectives received tips from the public that helped them identify the suspects, police said.

Deputy District Attorney David Bost said Odom, her boyfriend Curtis Harvey and their 10-month-old daughter, Aaliyah, encountered Sayles and his group at a gas station about 10:30 p.m. and looks were exchanged between the two parties.

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.

Odom decided to drive off before pumping any gas, but Sayles followed and pulled alongside her car at 65th and Akins streets, near Wideman Memorial Park, according to Bost.

Someone inside the suspect car opened fire, striking Odom three times in the head, the prosecutor said. Harvey drove Odom to her mother's home a few blocks away, but the victim died there.

In a letter to the court, Odom's mother, Gloria Jimenez, said her daughter -- an “A'” student and ROTC member -- who dreamed of being a probation officer.

“I will never stop grieving over the loss of Crystal,'” she wrote.

James Odom said he asked God why his daughter's life was cut short because she had no enemies.

He said Sayles was just as guilty as the shooter because he drove the car that followed his daughter.

“God will find him (Sayles) guilty of murder,'” James Odom told the judge.

Sayles, who was 18 at the time of Odom's murder, had a juvenile court record for auto theft and burglary and was on adult probation for auto theft at the time, Bost said.

[G] San Diego's Unsolved Cold Cases

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