School Shooter Who Killed 6-Year-Old Pleads for Mercy

SC's Jesse Osborne, now 21, killed Jacob Hall in 2016 and now seeks to be released in his 60s
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2023 8:46 AM CDT
School Shooter Who Killed 6-Year-Old Pleads for Mercy
Jesse Osborne waits for a ruling at the Anderson County Courthouse, Feb. 16, 2018, in Anderson, SC.   (Ken Ruinard/The Independent-Mail via AP, Pool, File)

A 21-year-old man serving two life sentences plus 30 years for murdering his father and subsequently carrying out a deadly school shooting is asking a judge for mercy so that he might eventually get out of prison. On Sept. 28, 2016, Jesse Osborne killed his father as he slept in a recliner at home in Townville, South Carolina, then traveled to his former elementary school, where he shot at a first-grade class on the playground, fatally striking 6-year-old Jacob Hall. Osborne was then 14. Now 21, he's requested that a judge lessen his sentence, handed down in 2019, to allow him to leave prison in his 50s or 60s, per the AP.

Osborne, who pleaded guilty to adult charges of murder and attempted murder, acknowledged "my evil actions" during a Monday hearing in Anderson County, apologized to Hall's family and every person who was at the school that day, and said he would "try to better myself in the Department of Corrections the rest of my life." Though prosecution experts described Osborne as a dangerous and pathological liar who felt no remorse, his attorney, Frank Eppes, said Judge Lawton McIntosh hadn't properly considered a report from a psychologist who claimed Osborne's actions were the result of abuse by the father, that he could be rehabilitated, and that he had responded to treatment, showing grief and remorse.

"Give Jesse some hope to live with," Eppes implored, proposing Osborne serve a 30-year minimum sentence for the two murders, plus 15 years for shooting at the other children, to be followed by a lifetime of GPS monitoring. He noted Osborne's life sentences prevented him from taking part in certain programs that would help him improve, per the Washington Post. But many others spoke against Osborne's eventual release, including "the teacher whose class was having recess, the parent of a wounded child, the father of (a) student celebrating his birthday, the superintendent who saw the bloodstained class rug, and the school principal," per the AP.

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"In my opinion, his current sentence is still so, so much more merciful than the sentence he gave to Jacob and our school family," said Principal Denise Fredericks. She noted Osborne—who wrote of wanting to kill up to 150 people, per the Post—only stopped shooting because "the gun jammed." Teacher Meghan Hollingsworth said "a child screaming out in joy or a door slamming or a metal water bottle dropping to the floor" still triggers panic, per WYFF. Hall's family didn't speak but prosecutors said they also oppose Osborne's eventual release. The judge gave the defense 30 days to prepare a report. Prosecutors will then have 10 days to respond. (More South Carolina stories.)

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