Court Hears Testimony of Juvenile Mass Murderer to Determine if He Should be Tried as an Adult

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juvenile mass shooterIn the aftermath of the horrific mass killing spree at Parkland High School, American’s are facing a slew of questions, including how to prevent more child murders by juvenile mass shooters.  The Florida shooting happened while South Carolina has already been in the midst of dealing with its own school shooting.  

On September 28, 2016, the mass murder spree in Townesville, South Carolina was committed by Jesse Osborne, a 14 year old. First, he killed his father by shooting him 3 times at home, then he kissed his bunny and his three dogs before driving his father’s truck to the Townville Elementary School. Once there, he crashed the truck and then shot a first-grade teacher and two children including 6-year-old first grader, Jacob Hall, whom suffered a severe gunshot wound in his leg that caused him to bleed to death. The school was on lockdown and law enforcement swarmed the school.

Jesse’s gun began to jam after each shot as he attempted to shoot children on the playground. He explained that it took several more shots before he realized the weight of what he was doing, and he instantly threw the gun and bullets away. He immediately called his grandparents. At that time, he was tackled on the playground by volunteer fireman, Jamie Brock.

Jesse showed concern about the people that he shot at, and he said he hoped that they didn’t die. He expressed gratitude for the gun jamming, and said that if it hadn’t, he probably would have killed himself, too.

Determining How To Try A Juvenile Mass Shooter

This Monday,  the videotaped testimonial of this teenage killer was played during a waiver hearing to determine if he should be tried as an adult. Every state has unique laws regarding minors and serious criminal charges. In South Carolina, the age of juvenile court jurisdiction was just raised from 16 to 17.  

If he is tried as an adult, his two counts of murder, 3 counts of attempted murder, and five counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime can put him in jail for decades.  

If he is tried as a juvenile, then he is only detained until he turns 21. Those that hope for him to be tried as a juvenile say that he is just a child, so he should not have been questioned without his parent or attorney present.  In South Carolina, police can question a child without their parents present, they just have to tell the child their miranda rights.  The other concern is that the juvenile does not know or understand his rights. The child has the right to waive their right to an attorney.

Once a child is arrested in South Carolina, they go through an “intake” process to be psychologically, socially, and educationally assessed. There is a hearing within 48 hours of custody and then the child might go to the juvenile detention center. When a serious crime, such as murder, is committed by a minor, a waiver hearing is required to determine if the child should be waived to adult criminal court.  

These are the 8 factors they will consider:

  1. Seriousness of the offense and safety of the public
  2. Premidiation, aggression, willful, violent acts
  3. Offense against person or property
  4. Sufficient evidence for a Grand Jury to return an indictment
  5. Availability of adult co-defendants
  6. Maturity and Sophistication of the child
  7. Prior criminal record
  8. If the child is reasonably rehabilitated, would the public be safe?

In court, over a year later, the Jesse is now in a wheelchair due to an injury from playing basketball in juvenile jail. He kept his head down the whole time while the video played.

Events Leading Up to the Crime

It is crucial to consider the story of a child that chooses to commit murder.  Looking back through Jesse’s case, we can see the warning signs and how helping him would have also  protected society.

Bullying

The few things he had to say for why he shot kids on the school playground is that it was the first school he had gone to. Jesse had no agenda against this particular school, but he hated the school system in general. He said no one ever seems to like him and that he has a history of constantly being bullied. He had to leave his middle school for homeschooling because he brought a machete and hatchet to his middle school, West Oak Middle School, due to students physically bullying him. He had also gotten into trouble at this school for submitting a documentary about the Columbine High School shooting. They were concerned that he was a threat.

Domestic Violence

The teen says he killed his father because he was angry at his dad who was drunk and yelling at him and his mom about money.  He said his dad used to tell him he wanted to fight him for making certain faces, and then his mom would have to step in and argue with his dad to keep him from fighting. Jesse stated that the night before the shooting, his father was worse than he had ever been.

Access to Guns

The following day, his dad yelled at him about his math homework, and this is when he decided to go get his father’s gun out of the draw next to his parent’s bed. His father had a gun collection of 20-30 guns that were usually locked up, but he knew of this particular .40 and ammo. He told interrogators that he has shot all of the guns before with his parents and he expressed that he likes guns. One of the guns that his father had was a a mini.14, which is classified as a semi-automatic rifle.  He admitted that he tried to sneak the code from his dad by acting like he was texting on his phone while he was actually filming him.  Jesse admitted to the interrogator that he really wanted to use the semi-automatic for the killing spree, but his dad must have changed the code.

Feelings of Isolation

He said he felt like he “basically [had] no one when he was homeschooling, because it was all online. He said he “felt isolated.” His intoxicated parents frequently had intense arguments, and he began locking himself in his room with his rabbit, his only source of comfort. He shared that he felt angry all the time and he reflected that it’s “probably why I did this, I had no friends.”

Negative Outside Influences Via Social Media

He researched the 1999 Columbine High School shooting and belonged to an Instagram group of other teens interested in school shootings where they shared that they “were all going to shoot up their schools too”, according to Jesse. There has not been any additional information offered about investigations into this. This teen killer opened up to FBI special Agent Aleta Bollinger that Instagram has some accounts with TCC in them that stands for “true crime community” which is basically for people obsessed with mass murderers and serial killers. He admitted that he originally intended to kill 20-30 kids, and that the kids on Instagram were cheering him on.

Lack of Mental Support

In his interrogation, he said that at one point he was supposed to see a therapist and that it probably would have stopped him from doing this, but they never called.

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