South Carolina teen Jesse Osborne pleaded guilty in December to two charges of murder for fatally shooting his father in their home and a 6-year-old boy at Osborne’s former elementary school. The September 2016 killings took place just weeks after Osborne turned 14, but he is being tried as an adult due to the severity of the crimes.
While Osborne faces a minimum sentence of 30 years, prosecutors said they would seek a life sentence without parole. Court Solicitor David Wagner emphasized the horror of the two shootings as well as Osborne’s messages to a private Instagram group of “would-be school shooters” as justification for the maximum sentence. The prosecution team also detailed prior incidents of disturbing behavior, including bringing a machete to his middle school and a school psychologist’s report that Osborne claimed he was going to “kill all the bullies.”
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles in 2012. The decision said children lack maturity and are prone to “recklessness, impulsivity, and heedless risk-taking,” and therefore should be sentenced under different guidelines than adults. One of Osborne’s defense attorneys, Frank Eppes, claims Osborne is remorseful and understands that he could spend the rest of his life in prison.
The sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled, with both sides agreeing they need time to gather information and select witnesses. —L.E.