Maria Olson, family members seek justice for Jordyn

Maria Olson, family members seek justice for Jordyn by David Lias Maria Olson is living and working in the present, busily taking care of her 7-year-old daughter when she isn�t out patrolling Vermillion�s streets as a city police officer.

She has some significant unfinished business to tend to, however. After the pre-sentence investigation for Daren Olson, her estranged husband, is completed in April or May, she will have an opportunity to seek justice for Jordyn.

�At the sentencing hearing I�m going to speak there, and I�m writing a letter to the judge, also,� Maria Olson said.

She had asked that her estranged husband be sentenced to 30 years in prison for his manslaughter plea.

�From my understanding, in talking with Attorney General Mark Barnett, he thought there was a decent case and that we could have gone to trial and possibly even gotten more,� Maria Olson said.

In her communications with Rusch, she said, she won�t focus on the proposed length of time that Daren Olson will serve in prison.

�I�m not going to put a time frame on it when I�m talking with him,� she said. �It will just be more about what our loss has been.�

Daren Olson admitted Friday that he killed his 5-month-old daughter in a fit of rage. He pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter. If Circuit Court Judge Arthur Rusch follows the state�s recommendations, he will be sentenced to no more than 20 years in the state penitentiary.

Ultimately, the defendant may only serve a fraction of that sentence. That�s why Maria Olson wanted state prosecutors to offer 30, not 20 years in the sentencing plea agreement.

Maria Olson said she believes Daren Olson�s account of what happened on the day of Jordyn�s death. �But they lightened the story quite a bit.

�I mean, I�ve looked at the autopsy report. It was more than just slamming her onto the changing table once,� Maria Olson added. �I saw her injuries at the hospital. She had three fractures in her skull. Her eyes were totally dislocated. It wasn�t just from one slam.�

Daren Olson was home alone Oct. 11, caring for Jordyn. Maria Olson, a Vermillion police officer, was on duty.

Maria Olson�s mother, Patty Andersen of Sioux City, IA can�t accept the notion that her former son-in-law temporarily blacked out and has no memory of killing her granddaughter.

It is an issue that Maria Olson has chosen not to dwell on, however.

�It really doesn�t matter if he did or he didn�t (black out),� Maria said.

What does matter, she said, is the tremendous volume of pain that Daren Olson caused in just a short time last October.

�I guess I�m going to let them (the court) know how much we�ve been hurt,� Maria Olson said. �It�s going to affect everybody for the rest of our lives ? and how much he hurt her that day. It was more than just like they made it sound to be hardly anything. He had to hurt her really, really bad that day.�

Daren Olson�s attorney, Sid Strange of Sioux Falls, had advised his client against taking Friday�s plea agreement, saying he didn�t think the facts of the case fit the severity of the charge.

The judge asked Daren Olson on Friday if he remembered acting in the �heat of passion� � the definition of the crime of first-degree manslaughter. His lawyer said Daren Olson had little memory of the event.

�That�s definitely a lie,� Andersen said.

Andersen said she and other members of her family will join her daughter and communicate verbally and in writing to Rusch.

She said that at the Vermillion hospital before he even knew that Jordyn had died, �he had come back and he wanted to talk to me and my husband, and the minister came in with us. He had told us that he had taken her and shaken her and he hadn�t actually lost control, he was just frustrated.

�He said you can believe me if you want to, but no matter what, I�m only going to get 15 years,� Andersen added. �When he said that, I had a lot of doubts.�

Andersen said the possibility of Daren Olson receiving a 20 year sentence is nearly unbearable.

�How we�re going to handle that we have no idea,� she said. �We�ve talked about it once, and it was just too much for us to even think about.

�Him serving time isn�t going to bring Jordyn back or anything, but it�s just unbelievable that you can do something like that � whether you snapped or whether you did it intentionally � and just walk away with 10 or 15 years.�

Rusch said Friday that he would accept the plea, but he could sentence Daren Olson to more than 20 years.

Daren Olson remains free on bond pending sentencing.

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