A 14-year-old South Carolina school gunman who killed a first-grader on a playground is pleading for mercy and release in his 50s or 60s.
Jesse Osborne shot and killed Jacob Hall at Townville Elementary School in 2016. Before the Townville, S.C., school shooting, he killed his father. After pleading guilty, Osborne was sentenced to life without parole in 2019 for murdering his father and the boy. He also received 30 years for attempted murder.
Osborne’s attorney, Frank Eppes, asked South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Lawton McIntosh to reduce his overall sentence to 40–55 years on Monday. According to the Associated Press, Eppes implored McIntosh to “give Jesse some hope to live with” after the court ignored a psychologist’s report that Osborne was shot due to abuse and may be rehabilitated.
Osborne apologized to Jacob’s family and those touched by the 2016 shooting in Anderson County court as the attorney requested.
The tweet below verifies the news:
Jesse Osborne, the South Carolina school shooter who was sentenced to life in prison for killing a first-grader on a playground when he was 14, is asking the court for mercy and a chance to be released when he is in his 50s or 60s. https://t.co/2GuVGAEapm
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) May 23, 2023
“I know at this point it’s going to seem hollow, and I’m not saying this to get a lesser sentence, I would just like to say sorry to my family for everything I’ve done, sorry to the Hall family for everything, and sorry to every kid that was at that playground that day, every student at that school, every teacher at that school,” Osborne told WYFF, an NBC affiliate in Greenville, S.C. “I apologize to everyone.”
However, some gunshot witnesses argued Monday that Osborne should be imprisoned for life.
Meghan Hollingsworth, a shooting victim, and teacher, said she worries during recess.
“We teach our children that there are consequences for our choices and behaviors,” Hollingsworth told Spartanburg CBS station WSPA. “Knowing that Jesse was behind bars and would be for life was a small comfort for the children.”
Eppes told The Washington Post that he “made the points I wanted to make,” but the attorney wasn’t sure if the punishment will be reduced.
“As a lawyer, you learn to mistrust your feelings about anything,” he remarked.
Recent years have seen more requests for release or leniency for school shooters condemned to life in prison.
Michael Carneal was granted parole last year 25 years after the 1997 West Paducah, Ky., shooting that killed three of his high school classmates and wounded five. September refused Carneal parole.
Attorneys for Springfield, Ore., high school shooter Kip Kinkel petitioned the Oregon Supreme Court for a “murder review hearing.” USA Today reported that a mental health evaluation of Kinkel could affect his prison sentence.
1997 school shootings devastated a town. The gunman may be paroled.
After being expelled from West Oak Middle School in early 2016, Osborne was home-schooled in South Carolina. Ryan Brock, Jesse Osborne’s older half-brother, testified that Jeffrey Osborne, 47, physically abused his son.
Jesse Osborne shot and killed his father while he slept in his recliner on Sept. 28, 2016. After saying farewell to his pets, Osborne admitted to stealing his father’s truck and driving it to his old primary school. The youngster called his grandparents at 1:44 p.m., but his grandmother informed authorities they couldn’t understand him due to his crying.
Osborne crashed his truck into a fence and fired for 12 seconds at Townville Elementary School, The Post reported. His gun jammed before cops arrested him.
After being jailed, Osborne told his grandma that he was afraid of hell.
Jacob, 6, was shot. His leg was shot, causing blood loss and cardiac arrest. Jacob died three days after surgery.
Hollingsworth and two students were hurt.
In December 2018, Osborne pled guilty to two murders and three attempted murders. Osborne had been investigating past school shooters for months, with intent to outdo them, investigators learned during the sentencing hearing. “I think ill probably most likely kill around 50 or 60,” he declared in an Instagram group chat before the massacre. “Maybe 150.”
A school shooter’s mind: Killing 50 or 60. Maybe 150.
November 2019 saw his life sentence without parole. Jacob’s mother, Renae Hall, forgave Osborne for murdering her son before his sentencing.
“The Bible says we have to forgive those who have sinned against us and that’s what I’ve done,” she told Charleston CBS station WCSC in 2019. Because I need forgiveness, I can forgive. “Jacob has been vindicated,” she said.
Eppes told The Post that the pandemic delayed Osborne’s sentence reduction motion. At Monday’s hearing, he said Osborne had behaved well in prison and was “not capable of understanding what he was doing” at 14. The defense attorney emphasized that Osborne’s life term bars him from various Corrections Department programs.
“Give him a chance to better himself as much as possible,” Eppes told WSPA.
A 7-year-old feared school after a shooting. 13-year-old her way.
The judge granted Osborne’s defense team 30 days to submit a supplemental report before deciding on a lower sentence. AP reported that prosecutors have 10 days to respond to the findings.
According to the AP, witnesses at Monday’s hearing urged Osborne’s imprisonment. Osborne should be imprisoned, prosecutors said, even if Hall’s family did not speak in court. Jeff Bernard, whose son was celebrating his birthday when the incident occurred, told the court that his son “hates his birthday.”
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Principal Denise Fredericks wishes Osborne “a life where he can wake up, breathe, eat, work, be productive,” but not outside prison.
“His current sentence is still so, so much more merciful than what he gave Jacob and our school family,” she stated.
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