Nov. 14 (UPI) — A South Carolina judge sentenced a teenager to spend the rest of his life in prison Thursday for killing two people during a school shooting in 2016.
Circuit Court Judge Lawton McIntosh sentenced Jesse Osborne, 17, in Anderson County to life in prison without parole for killing his father, Jeffrey Osborne, at their home before driving to Townville Elementary School where he killed 6-year-old Jacob Hall when he opened fire on the playground.
The sentence comes nearly a year after Osborne, who was 14 at the time of the shooting on Sept. 28, 2016, pleaded guilty in December to the two counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder.
Osborne, 17, was also sentenced to 30 years in prison for attempting to kill Megan Hollingsworth, a teacher at the school, and two unnamed students, who sustained injuries during the shooting.
Before the sentence was handed down Thursday, Osborne told the judge while crying to “give me hope for a future and get me help because I do need help.”
Osborne was ineligible for the death penalty as he was a minor when the crimes were committed with life in prison the most severe punishment he could receive. The special hearing was required by law prohibiting juveniles from arbitrarily receiving mandatory life sentences.
“This is the sentence that we hoped for and that these crimes called for,” said prosecutor David Wagner. “You can’t come into our community, into our schools, and do what he did. I hope this sends a message to anyone else who would think about doing something like this.”
The defense said they will file an appeal.
“We’re very disappointed in the result, but the courts will undoubtedly have to continue dealing with sentencing juveniles to life without parole and will have to continue to deal with the issue of school shootings,” said Osborne’s lead attorney Frank Eppes.
The sentencing brought to an end three days of special hearings that consisted of testimonies from family members, victims and doctors. The defense argued that Osborne was an isolated, troubled teen from a household ruled by a drunken, abusive father while the prosecution argued that he had planned the attack in advance and was still a threat to society.
On Thursday, Tommy Osborne, the father of slain 47-year-old Jeffrey Osborne and grandfather to Jesse Osborne, said his son was a great father except for when he drank and became threatening. He said he began to carry a gun with him after one instance when he was threatened by his son.
“After that, I made sure I had some kind of protection,” he said.
Psychiatrist Dr. Donna Maddox said Jesse Osborne came from a broken, dysfunctional family where he was subjected to “long beatings.”
“This family is broken. They are broken from the top to the bottom. They were broken before this crime happened and they are even more broken now,” she said. “…They are incredibly broken.”
Psychiatrist James Ballenger also testified, stating that he thinks Osborne is dangerous and that is unlikely to change.
“I certainly think he is dangerous and I think he will remain dangerous,” he said. “Anything under God’s green earth is possible but I wouldn’t say [rehabilitation] is likely.”