Local News

Ex-Teacher Gets Prison in Woman's Stabbing

Posted January 18, 2008 1:07 p.m. EST
Updated January 18, 2008 7:16 p.m. EST

— A former high school teacher was sentenced Friday to at least 13 years in prison after admitting that he stabbed his former girlfriend last year.

Michael Orlando Olliver, 48, of 115 Ramblewood Drive, pleaded guilty last week to attempted murder in the Feb. 20 stabbing of Erica Shariss Jennings. Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens sentenced him to between 156 and 197 months in prison, about three years less than the maximum range that prosecutors sought.

Jennings, 38, was stabbed repeatedly inside her townhouse near Cove Bridge Road. She ran from door to door in her apartment complex, leaving a trail of blood, before finding someone to drive her to the hospital.

"He didn't say a word. He just ran up to me, stabbed me in my chest. ... and the blood just poured out," she said in court Friday. "I didn't think I was going to make it."

Jennings said Olliver stalked her for weeks before the incident, calling her at work and on her cell phone and beating on her doors and windows. She got a restraining order against him a few days before she was stabbed.

"I could see him standing off to the side, just watching me, just standing there waiting for me to die," she said.

Neighbor Christopher Hicks was leaving for work that morning when he saw a bloody Jennings outside the apartment building. He drove her to WakeMed with his 2-year-old son in the car.

She was critically injured and wasn't expected to live. But she pulled through after several surgeries. The trauma left her with no peripheral vision.

"Nobody in this courtroom knows what I had to deal with and what I still have to deal with from him stabbing me," she said Friday. "I really think he is a menace to society."

Olliver was arrested in Georgetown, S.C., several hours after the stabbing.

Harvard Jennings called his daughter's assailant "a beast without a soul."

"I'm a man, not a monster," Olliver responded in court. "What happened that day – that morning – was out of my character."

A former high school and college basketball star, Olliver taught physical education at Southern Wayne High School and coached the basketball team from 2000 to 2004.

He made headlines in 2004 as a father helping his son battle a rare medical condition. WRAL profiled him when a rare virus temporarily paralyzed his son, Mikey, from the waist down. Mikey Olliver was eventually able to walk and play basketball again and is now a student at Shaw University.

"I have made a terrible mistake in my life. I regret it more than anything in this world," Olliver said in court. "I've been waiting a year to say it. I'm so sorry this happened to you. I know it means nothing today, but maybe someday it will."

His brother also apologized to Jennings and her family Friday and asked for a lenient sentence, saying he believes Olliver suffers from depression.

"Let him be able to give back to society," Valla Olliver said.

But the judge said Michael Olliver's skills as a teacher and motivator weren't the reason for Friday's court hearing.

"By the grace of God, this man is not being tried for first-degree murder. It just wasn't her time," Stephens said.

Alonzo Thomas, who used to coach with Michael Olliver, said his friend deserved a chance to redeem himself.

"Good people sometimes do bad things. I think everybody deserves a second chance," Thomas said.

But Elisha Jennings said her sister's assailant shouldn't be given a second chance.

"Many women have lost their lives because people like you are given second chances," Elisha Jennings told Olliver in court.

"I can understand and I can believe the family had no idea he was capable of this crime," Stephens said in handing down the sentence. "Maybe he didn't even know he was capable of this crime."