Texas shooting survivor says she felt 'powerful' testifying against attacker who killed girlfriend: 'He’s behind bars because of me'

Kristene Chapa's girlfriend died from the 2012 attack.

October 29, 2019, 5:37 PM

Seven years after her girlfriend was killed and she was seriously injured in a brutal attack, Kristene Chapa spoke openly to "The View" about testifying against her attacker.

"I felt powerful, like I took my power back to be able to stand up against him," Chapa said. "He couldn't even look at me, which was disappointing, because I wanted him to see what he had done."

Chapa was 18 years old in June 2012 when she and her girlfriend Mollie Olgin were shot in the head execution-style at Violet Andrews Park in Portland, Texas. Chapa was also sexually assaulted. The following morning, a couple discovered the bodies of the two women in knee-high grass near a scenic lookout in the park, police said. Olgin was pronounced dead at the scene and an unconscious Chapa was taken to a local hospital where she eventually regained consciousness.

Authorities didn't investigate the fatal attack as a hate crime even though the incident happened during Pride weekend. During her recovery, Chapa worked with police to help identify her shooter.

Ultimately, David Malcolm Strickland was arrested and later found guilty of capital murder and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. He is now appealing the conviction based on new DNA evidence that his attorneys claim prove he was wrongly convicted.

PHOTO: Kristene Chapa, left, accompanied by her mother Grace Chapa, opened up about a 2012 attack in Texas that killed her girlfriend on "The View," Oct. 29, 2019.
Kristene Chapa, left, accompanied by her mother Grace Chapa, opened up about a 2012 attack in Texas that killed her girlfriend on "The View," Oct. 29, 2019.
ABC News

Chapa spoke on Tuesday to "The View's" co-hosts — including Sunny Hostin, host of the show "Truth About Murder," who revisits the investigation with Chapa — about the attack, her miraculous recovery and testifying during Strickland's trial.

"I kept waiting. I stared at him, right, whenever I was testifying, and not one look. But he could smile at my family and taunt them," she continued. "He's behind bars because of me, so he's watching this right now."

Chapa had to relearn how to walk, talk and even smile again after the attack, she said, noting that she's now "doing well" overall. Chapa is currently taking college courses while writing a book about her experience. But she said that it wasn't just her physical state that needed time to recover.

"I struggle with [post-traumatic stress disorder] and anxiety. I have panic attacks," Chapa said. "My body will never be 100% again. I do miss it a lot and, like, even being able to pick up my niece and nephews. ... I want to have my independence back."

Chapa attributed a large part of her recovery to her family, especially her mother Grace Chapa, who stayed with her in a physical rehabilitation center for three-and-a-half months.

"My family was there with me, and then my mom — she was a big part of it," Kristene Chapa said. "All my supporters; they've been there. They followed my story since day one and I want to thank everybody for that."

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