Townville school shooter apologizes for first time in court, asks for shorter sentence

Jesse Osborne appeared in court for a resentencing hearing after he shot and killed a 6-year-old at Townville Elementary School in 2016.
Published: May. 19, 2023 at 1:11 PM EDT|Updated: May. 22, 2023 at 4:06 PM EDT
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TOWNVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Jesse Osborne, who opened fire on the playground of Townville Elementary when he was 14 years old and killed a child, apologized to his victims in court for the first time in nearly seven years.

Osborne was sentenced to life in prison for the murders of his father, Jeff Osborne, and six-year-old student Jacob Hall in 2016. A judge gave him an additional 30 years in prison for the attempted murder of three other victims who were wounded in the attack.

6-year-old Jacob Hall
6-year-old Jacob Hall(Family)

During Osborne’s trial, a psychologist testified that he believed the teen had an emerging personality disorder and that his lack of remorse or empathy was symptomatic of conduct disorder.

In court on Monday, Osborne did express remorse for the shooting, apologizing to the students and teachers who were at Townville Elementary when the shooting occurred. During his sentencing, Osborne said he wished he could turn back time and admitted he needed help, but this is the first time in court that Osborne has apologized to the victims.

“I’m not trying to get a lesser sentence,” Osborne told the court. “I would just like to say, sorry to my own family for everything I’ve done. Sorry to the Hall family for everything. Sorry to every kid that was at that playground that day, to every kid who was at that school that day, to every teacher who was at the school that day.”

Osborne said he is trying to better himself in the Department of Corrections. His defense attorney said he has not received any disciplinary actions while imprisoned.

A teacher who spoke at the hearing said students at Townville suffered mental health impacts after the shooting, including some children who were unable to return to a brick-and-mortar school at all.

Prosecutors said they would have pursued the death penalty against Osborne if he had been old enough at the time, pushing for the life sentence to be upheld.

The court will consider the issue before making a decision.

A motion filed by Osborne’s attorney after his sentencing claims abuse and family discord contributed to his condition. The defense believes that testimony from experts, who did not know if a personality disorder could make Osborne a continued threat to the community even as an adult, is part of why he was sentenced to life.

“There is no evidence of irreparable corruption,” the motion states. Treatment for Osborne’s disorder would be more effective outside of the Department of Corrections, his defense argues.

Memorial for Jacob Hall at Townville Elementary School.
Memorial for Jacob Hall at Townville Elementary School.(FOX Carolina News)

Osborne’s attorneys are pushing for a resentencing of 30 years in prison for the murder charges followed by 15 years for the three attempted murder charges. Under their proposal, Osborne would have lifetime GPS monitoring if released from prison, but a judicial review after 10 years could allow for its removal.

On Thursday, the Anderson County Clerk of Court released new documents to FOX Carolina.

In the documents is a letter from Jesse Osborne’s family member, asking the judge to keep Osborne in prison.

Jesse Osborne's family member's letter
Jesse Osborne's family member's letter(Anderson County Clerk of Court)

“Not once in these six and half years has he taken responsibility for what he did. He will say he’s ‘sorry’ for things, but he never has taken responsibility for his actions. He wants everyone to feel sorry for him,” the family member wrote, “His way of trying to justify his actions is to blame anyone but himself. He will never take responsibility for these heinous actions.”

The letter continued stating, “I would like to see him spend the rest of his natural life incarcerated and without any expectation of parole or a shortened sentence...He destroyed our family, and many more, with what he did to be famous that day.”

The court also released notes from a recent psychiatric evaluation.

According to the file, consulting forensic psychiatrist Dr. Donna Schwartz Maddox evaluated Jesse Osborne on April 5, 2023, at Lieber Correctional Institution, where he is serving a life sentence.

In the report, Dr. Maddox stated, “He did report he had a dream about his father. He reported he thinks about his crimes, ‘and why I did It. I really don’t know why I killed my Dad. I was really depressed and vulnerable and thought it would end the abuse.’ Jesse has not processed the school shooting.”

The note mentions that his symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, are “presently minimal” but would eventually need treatment.

Dr. Maddox stated that his “depression is in remission” and that he does not meet the requirements for antisocial personality disorder. “As a young adult, he has not shown a pattern of disregard for the law or the rights of others. He follows rules and had adjusted well.”

“On mental status, Jesse had matured considerably. He was calm and cooperative,” Dr. Maddox stated, “He was not psychotic. He is not impulsive. He exercises good judgment.”

On Monday, the judge asked Osborne’s attorney to submit additional reports about his mental health. The judge is reviewing those documents before making a final decision.

Stay with FOX Carolina for updates on this developing story.