School shooter asks for mercy from life imprisonment

Jesse Osborne

School shooter asks for mercy from life imprisonment

Jesse Osborne's attorney asked Judge Lawton Mackintosh on Monday to reconsider his sentence so that Osborne, now 21, could have some hope of freedom in his 50s or 60s.

Attorney Frank Epps said the judge did not fully consider a psychiatrist's report that Osborne lashed out for abuse and could be rehabilitated.

"Give Jesse some hope of living with him," Ibis said in a televised court hearing.

Osborne himself asked for a chance at life outside the prison cell and apologized to the family of 6-year-old Jacob Hall, who killed him and everyone in the school that day.

"I would just like to say sorry to every one of them. Because my evil actions hurt their lives," Osborne said. "I will try to better myself in the corrections department for the rest of my life.

But the teacher whose class was on vacation, the parent of an injured child, the student's father celebrating his birthday, the superintendent who saw the bloody classroom rug, and the principal all said at Monday's hearing in Anderson County Court that they don't want to see Osborne get out of jail.

Principal Dennis Fredericks recognized Osborne walking outside Townville Elementary School with a backpack full of ammunition for 12 minutes after his gun jammed before police arrived to arrest him. Osborne was a student there for seven years.

"I wish Jesse a life where he can wake up, breathe, eat, work, and be productive — but not outside prison walls," Fredericks said. "In my opinion, his current sentence is still the same, far more merciful than the sentence he handed to Jacob and our school family."

Prosecutors said the Hall family did not wish to speak in court but wanted Osborne never to be released.

Osborne is serving a life sentence after being found guilty. Before opening fire at the school on September 28, 2016, Osborne shot and killed his father while sleeping in a chair; before saying goodbye to his rabbit and other pets, Osborne stole his father's truck and drove to his former elementary school, according to Osborne.

Osborne crashes his truck into the school fence and shoots the first-grade class celebrating a classmate's birthday at recess. Hall bled to death from a gunshot wound to the leg. Two other students and a teacher sustained minor injuries.

Uneaten donuts with the Batman crest could still be seen on the floor inside the police bar hours after the shooting.

"My son hates his birthday right now," Father Jeff Bernard told the judge.

Prosecutors said Osborne wanted to kill dozens of people but had the wrong ammunition, and his gun jammed after each shot.

Osborne's lawyer said a video call he opened up to a group chat with people who knew his plan showed him crying, upset, and ready to give up the first shots.

Osborne asks the judge to consider a supplementary report from a psychiatrist who disagrees with the prosecution experts who testified in Osborne's original verdict that he was a dangerous, pathological liar without remorse.

Osborne's brain was still developing as a teenager. Psychiatrists cited by the defense said he showed guilt and grief and responded to therapy in the nearly seven years since his arrest at the school.

Osborne's lawyer proposed a minimum sentence of 30 years for the two murders, followed by 15 years for shooting other children and then lifelong GPS monitoring after he was released on one review after ten years.

McIntosh requested a detailed report from the defense expert for the next month and told prosecutors they would have at least ten days to respond.

Several students did not return to school after the shooting. Some never went back to school. A pop balloon ended a school dance in tears. Teacher Megan Hollingsworth, whose class celebrated her birthday that day, said the holiday was still filled with anxiety. Her child was in kindergarten.

She said, "The screams of children having fun make me panic, and I look to see who is screaming and see if they are alright."

She asked the judge to think of a banner in her first-grade class endorsing his life sentence handed down more than three years ago,

"You are free to choose, but you are not free from the consequences of your choices," it says in the Bible.

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