Gang member sentenced for killing rival’s girlfriend 23 years ago

SAN DIEGO -- A gang member who shot and killed the girlfriend of a perceived rival in a car-to-car shooting in Encanto 23 years ago was sentenced Monday to 18 years to life in state prison.

In January, the third jury to hear the case convicted Aswad Walker, now 40, of second-degree murder in the April 29, 1995, death of 18-year-old Crystal Odom.

Crystal Odom

Walker's first two trials ended with hung juries.

Odom was driving a car carrying her boyfriend, Curtis Harvey, and their 10-month-old daughter, Aaliyah, when she was shot three times in the head and neck. She died a short time after the 10:30 p.m. shooting.

Harvey and the couple's daughter escaped injury.

"It was only by the grace of God that she (Aaliyah) wasn't shot that night,'' the victim's father said.

James Odom chastised Walker for the "senseless and cowardly way'' the defendant killed his daughter, telling him, "You owe for taking a beautiful spirit! You owe for taking a mother from her daughter!''

Gloria Jimenez told the defendant he destroyed her life when he killed her daughter.

"You killed a woman with a baby in the back seat,'' Jimenez said. "That's a coward.''

Deputy District Attorney David Bost said Harvey wasn't a gang member but had friends who were.

The night of the murder, the victims were in rival gang territory when they stopped for gas at 69th Street and Imperial Avenue.

Odom and Harvey grew uneasy after noticing a car full of people at the station and left without getting gas, the prosecutor said.

The car containing Walker and four others followed Odom and pulled alongside at 65th Street and Akins Avenue. Three to five shots rang out and Odom was mortally wounded.

Harvey gained control of the car and drove to Jimenez's house, where he dropped off the wounded woman.

The next day, Harvey told police he thought he recognized the front seat passenger in the shooter's car -- whom he identified as Walker -- from middle school, Bost told the jury.

Walker and another person in the shooter's car, Jamar Phillips, told police that there was no shooting.

The case remained unsolved until 2015, when Phillips was re-interviewed and told detectives that Walker was the shooter, Bost said.

Last year, Samuel Sayles was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to eight years in prison.