COLUMBIA, S.C. — A school shooter who was 14 when he killed a first grader on a school playground in South Carolina was sentenced Thursday to life in prison without parole.
Judge Lawton McIntosh said Jesse Osborne showed little remorse after killing his father in their Anderson County home, then shooting at the playground at Townville Elementary School as a first grade class was celebrating a birthday party in September 2016.
Osborne had attended Townville Elementary. His principal joined the teacher whose class was on the playground, the family of the boy killed, Osborne’s own uncle and even a child there that day in asking for the life sentence.
“He killed my second best friend and showed up on my number one BFF’s birthday. I feel very, very, very mad,” the unnamed child wrote in the letter to the judge.
Osborne was sentenced just hours after the latest United States school shooting. Authorities said a student gunman opened fire at a Southern California high school, killing two students, wounding three others and shooting himself in the head.
Osborne, now 17, was being tried as an adult and faced a minimum of 30 years after pleading guilty to murder.
Prosecutors asked for a life sentence. This week’s special hearing is required under a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that life sentences for juveniles can’t be mandatory and arbitrary.
Along with testimony about his home life, McIntosh is considered evidence about whether Osborne can be rehabilitated, the circumstances of the crime and Osborne’s maturity.
Prosecutors said Osborne was obsessed with school shootings, has no regrets about the killings and continuously lies for his own benefit, like looking up symptoms of disorders like autism online and then trying to trick psychiatrist analyzing him.
Psychiatrists called by the defense have said teens’ brains are still developing and it’s unfair to send him away for life when the person he could become is not fully apparent.
Their case attempted to show a teen who suffered abuse from his father, was bullied at school and isolated himself in what he called a “dungeon” — his basement bedroom where he spent all his time after being expelled from middle school for bringing a hatchet on campus.
After killing his father, Osborne crashed his dad’s truck into the school fence and fired at students on the Townville Elementary School playground. Six-year-old Jacob Hall was shot in the leg and bled to death. A teacher and two other students suffered minor injuries.
Prosecutors said Jesse Osborne planned and wanted to kill dozens and has said he was disappointed that the act of killing didn’t feel the same way the teen thought it would.
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