December 12, 2018

(Anderson, SC). Earlier today at the Anderson County Courthouse Jesse
Dewitt Osborne pled guilty to two counts of Murder and three counts of
Attempted Murder before Judge Lawton McIntosh for killing his father and going on a shooting spree at Townville Elementary School on September 28, 2016, where he killed first grader Jacob Hall and injured two other first grade students and a teacher. Osborne’s sentencing will take place after a hearing later this spring.

A hearing prior to sentencing Osborne is required due to the State seeking a sentence of Life without Parole for the crimes committed by Osborne since he was under 17 years old at the time he committed these offenses. The Supreme Court of the United States held in Miller v. Alabama, 132 S. Ct. 2455 (2012), that the Eighth Amendment prohibits a sentencing scheme that mandates a sentence of life without the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders without affording the Court the opportunity to consider mitigating circumstances of youth. This means that before a life without parole sentence is imposed upon a juvenile offender, he must receive an individualized hearing where the mitigating qualities of youth are fully considered, including:

(1) the chronological age of the offender and the “hallmark features of
youth”, including immaturity, impetuosity, and failure to appreciate the risks and consequence of conduct;

(2) the family and home life/environment of the offender;

(3) the circumstances of the homicide offense, including the offender’s
participation or role and how “familial and peer pressures” may have
affected him;

(4) the “incompetencies associated with youth,” such as the offender’s
inability to deal with police officers or prosecutors or assist his own
attorneys; and 

(5) the possibility of rehabilitation.

The South Carolina Supreme Court extended the Miller holding in Aiken v. Byars, 410 S.C. 534, 754 S.E.2d 508 (2014), to cover nonmandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole and also held that this applies retroactively to cases pending on collateral review.

Following the guilty plea entered by Osborne, Solicitor Wagner said: “The State will not be entering into any plea deals with Jesse Osborne. I am seeking the maximum sentence in this case, life without parole, which is the appropriate sentence for the murder of six-year-old Jacob Hall, and the attempted murders of his classmates and teachers.”

The minimum sentence Osborne now faces is 30 years, with the maximum, which is being sought by Solicitor David R. Wagner of the Tenth Judicial Circuit, being life without the possibility of parole.

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