A man whose brother was sentenced in April to life in prison in the 1997 slaying of a Monterey Hugh School student was himself convicted of the murder by a jury in Salinas today, according to prosecutors. Jacobo Ruelas, 34, was found guilty in Monterey County Superior Court of first-degree murder with special circumstances and kidnapping for carjacking and robbery in the homicide of 17-year-old Kristopher Olinger, according to Deputy District Attorney Jeannine Pacioni.
Olinger was a senior at Monterey High School and had been on a class assignment taking photos of the Point Pinos Lighthouse in Pacific Grove in September 1997 when he was stabbed 29 times and thrown off of a cliff while still alive, Pacioni said. He was able to crawl back up from the cliff but collapsed and died on a dirt turnout, Pacioni said. Law enforcement officers located Olinger’s car in San Jose on Sept. 30, 1997, but the teen’s death remained a mystery.
According to prosecutors, in 2005 the California Department of Justice’s automated palm print system matched prints found on the teen’s car to those of Jacobo Ruelas, of Soledad, and his brother Angel Ruelas. The investigation then led investigators to locate eyewitnesses to the murder, Pacioni said. The brothers were indicted by a county grand jury in August 2006 on charges of murder with special circumstances, kidnapping, carjacking and robbery, Pacioni said.
Angel Ruelas pled guilty to the charges along with added gang and weapons enhancements on April 24 and received a prison sentence of life without the possibility of parole, Pacioni said. District Attorney Dean Flippo commended Olinger’s family “for remaining steadfast over all these years in working to see justice was done.”
The teen’s mother Shell and stepfather Loren did not survive to see the case resolved but Olinger’s stepbrother Travis “was an inspiration to the prosecution team by his unwavering support” of their efforts, Flippo said. Judge Mark Hood is scheduled on Oct. 30 to sentence Jacobo Ruelas, who faces life in prison without the possibility of parole as well, according to prosecutors.
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