On your 18th birthday you can buy pack of smokes, watch an R-rated movie, cast a vote and joined the Armed Forces. Or, if you're Chad Olah, you can be charged with adult crimes. He turned 18 on October 1. And on October 7, the man he's accused of beating last April died from injuries he suffered in that attack. If Olah is convicted he'll spend most of that adulthood in prison.
That victim was 47-year-old Craig Cohen, who was the first of two men allegedly attacked by Olah and two friends. The other victim, 27-year-old David Villanova, suffered a fractured skull but survived the attack.
From the BSO release:
Shortly after 1:20 a.m. April 6, Cohen was walking home on Oakland Park Boulevard after a meal at the Peter Pan Diner. With his leftovers in hand, he was almost home when a group of men attacked him, beating him severely, stomping his head into the ground and leaving him bleeding on the sidewalk. They also stole his cell phone. About five minutes later, David Villanova was walking to a convenience store after leaving a local bar when he was attacked and beaten. His attackers kicked his head and fractured his skull. They stole his wallet with his identification and credit cards inside.
That night, a group of friends had been drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana at a house near the Peter Pan Diner. They talked about how it would be fun to rob and beat someone up. Intent on committing a violent crime, the group left the house on foot, presumably in search of victims.
"In the weeks following the attacks, there was some speculation as to whether they had been fueled by hate and perpetrated because the victims were both gay men. However, detectives have determined that the sexual preference of the victims didn't factor in when their attackers were planning or committing the crimes," said Commander Rick Wierzbicki of BSO's Hate Crimes Task Force. "Cohen and Villanova were innocent victims, chosen simply because they were alone and defenseless."
On April 27, an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers of Broward County led investigators to the men who committed the attacks. After an extensive investigation by BSO's aggravated felonies, robbery and homicide units, the pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place. By interviewing people who knew the participants, detectives were able to link Victor Gonzalez and Pargu Leandro to both attacks.
BSO is working with the Broward County State Attorney's Office to enhance the attempted murder charges against Gonzalez and Leandro to murder. Both are being held in the Broward County Jail on no bond.