Townville school shooter Jesse Osborne sentenced to life in prison

Townville school shooter Jesse Osborne sentenced to life in prison
Jesse Osborne, who was 14 at the time of the killings, was sentenced to life in prison. (Source: WYFF)

ANDERSON, S.C. (WYFF) - Townville school shooter, Jesse Osborne, has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of six-year-old Jacob Hall.

He also got 30 years for the attempted murder charges.

The judge handed down the sentence just after 5 p.m. Thursday, WYFF reported.

The teacher shot on the playground at Townville Elementary School in 2016 and the family of the 6-year-old fatally shot that day are among those who gave powerful and emotional impact statements during the final day of the sentencing hearing.

Osborne pleaded guilty to murder last November for killing his father in their home, then driving to the school and shooting at students outside in September 2016.

Osborne fatally wounded 6-year-old Jacob Hall, who died three days later. He also shot a teacher and another student who survived.

Osborne had turned 14 less than a month before the killings. A judge ruled he should be tried as an adult.

Below is an account of what happened in court during the 3 days of hearings:


  • Meghan Hollingsworth, a teacher who was injured in the shooting, speaks to the court. She said the emotional affects are worse than the physical ones. She said her daughter was in a class nearby when the shooting happened. Recess has become the most anxious part of the day, she said. She said she has lost all enjoyment of taking her students to recess. "He should be punished to the max extent," Hollingworth said.
  • Jacob Hall's mom, Tina Renee Hall, spoke. Jacob was fatally shot during the Townville school shooting. She said she took drugs after Jacob's death because she was not strong enough to deal with her son's death and her drug addiction. She said "I miss my baby." She said she forgives Jesse but will not forget. "I am finally at peace but I prayer justice is served today," Hall said.
  • Victim impact statement: A teacher at Townville Elementary School talks about how students ask if someone is coming back to shoot them. She talks about how life is forever change since Jacob Hall was killed during the school shooting. She said a lot of students are now home schooled now or have transferred. She said her prayer is that Jesse's heart has changed but said she doesn't not think he should be released. She said she would like to see him get a life sentence.
  • Victim impact statements begin: Anderson County District 4 superintendent Dr. Joanne Avery reads her statement. She says the shooting forever changed the entire district. She describes seeing bullet holes and blood on the walls that day. Multiple members of Jacob Hall's family wipe away tears.
  • Dr. Ballenger returned to the stand: “I think he’s dangerous. I think he will remain dangerous and could become more and more dangerous,” Ballenger said.
  • Dr. Mark Wagner goes back on the stand. He testifies that Jesse is a byproduct of a perfect storm -a conflict of nature and nurture.
  • Defense rested its case, Prosecution has brief rebuttal.
  • Judge asks Maddox if there is any medical treatment that could help acclimate back into society or at all help him? "If he gets trauma-specific treatment, yes," Maddox said. Maddox says Jesse still cares about people and has the capacity for treatment.
  • Dr. Donna Schwartz Maddox took the stand. She went to Jesse's home on Feb 4. 2018 and did a home inspection and interviewed Jesse's mother. She called it a "very upper middle class home." She said Jesse's bedroom was in the basement and it was very dark. Maddox said she saw Jesse on Oct. 10, 2016, 13 days after the attack, and has seen him 12 times since then. She said there are two parts of Jesse-one part is a kid who was abused and then one is a kid who went and shot up a school. "This family is broken from top to bottom," Maddox said. She said it's even worse since the Townville shooting. She explained that Jesse's brain is still developing and he continues to make poor decisions because his brain is still developing. She described his intelligence as "average" and his emotional development as "not that of a typical 14-year-old." Maddox said Jesse's parents said very inappropriate things in front of Jesse. Maddox said she spoke to Jesse's brother, Ryan, who told her Jeff, Jesse's dad, would use a belt on Jesse. Maddox testified that Jesse's peers reported that Jesse was obsessed with Columbine and that he had a plan to hurt the people who bullied him. Maddox said Jesse was evaluated after he was expelled from middle school, but she said the doctor who examined him assumed he came from a stable home. "When you have a damage child, you don't want to return them to a damaged home," she testified. "The abuse at home was bad enough, he was expelled from school...he was isolated, and then he had no treatment," Maddox said. She said the group he communicated online encouraged Jesse to do the school shooting. "He wanted a school shooting and they encouraged him," Maddox said. She said Osborne tried to get the shooting as close to Columbine as possible. She said the prison would have to contract out the specific treatment that Jesse needs. Maddox said she wants to judge to consider Jesse's age at the time of the shooting and his limited mental development at the time. Maddox said Jesse knows he has really bad thoughts and he's trying to make them go away.
  • Osborne's grandfather, Tommy Osborne, took the stand first on day 3 of the hearing. Tommy Osborne said Jeff Osborne, Jesse's father, turned violent when he became intoxicated and threatened him on occasion. He talked about family arguments between Jesse and his parents. Tommy Osborne testified that Jesse brought a machete and another knife in his backpack when he was at West Oak. Tommy said Jesse did this because a boy who was bullying him was also bullying an autistic girl who was Jesse's friend. Jesse was expelled for bringing the machete and knife to school, Tommy said. Tommy said Jesse then became withdrawn. Tommy testified that Jesse was sent to Columbia for an evaluation following his expulsion. He said Jesse had to wear a GPS device and get permission to travel. Tommy said Jesse did not like this. Tommy said Jesse had no friends his age and only communicated with people on the internet. He said Jesse spent most of his time in his room. Tommy recounted the day of the Townville school shooting and him finding his son, Jeff, dead on the couch. Tommy said Jesse called him and was crying and told his grandfather he was at the school. Tommy told Jesse to stay there, and when Tommy pulled up at the school 3 minutes later he said police officers had him surrounded. Tommy testified that there will be money and a good Christian couple to take care of Jesse if he gets out of jail.


  • Albert Gordon Teichner, clinical psychologist, evaluated Osborne in October for a total of three times. Teichner said that obviously Osborne committed a horrible act of evil, but also is a boy who suffers from mental illness and endured conflict at home and was bullied by other children. Teichner said he warned Osborne on the first meeting about the need to be honest during evaluation and about malingering or faking psychotic symptoms. Teichner said through his interviews with Osborne, it was apparent he experienced depression and clearly described oppressive symptoms before the shooting. A month prior to the shooting, Osborne reported to Teichner clinical depressive symptoms like the inability to sleep, feeling worthless, attention problems, suicidal and homicidal thoughts, anger and rage. Teichner also talked to Osborne about planning the shooting. "He described killing as many people as he could in a school shooting, then going down in flames himself," Teichner said. He also thinks about what sentence he will get and that he was thinking of just killing himself while he was in prison. Teichner said Osborne also said he was intermittently possessed, for five to 10 minutes at a time, and that his body jerks and feels differently and he acts differently during these times. Osborne also told Teichner that he was a saved Christian, and prays that the demons will leave him. Teichner said Osborne told him that if you are a believer, you cannot be possessed and often quotes scriptures.
  • Ryan Brock, Jesse Osborne's half brother testifies via speakerphone. He lives in Texas. Brock testified that Osborne's dad, Jeff, drank daily. He said Osborne's dad was "very out of it" when he drank and had a short temper. Sometimes he (Osborne's dad) would spiral out of control, Brock said. Brock said Jeff would find something wrong with Jesse on a daily basis. Jeff would make Jesse pull down his pants and hit him, Brock testified. "I could hear the scream all the way through the house," Brock said. Brock said after he moved to Texas and went to therapy he contact child services about the abuse.
  • Dr. James C. Ballenger, M.D., testified for the prosecution and said he met with Osborne three times in December, 2017. He explained that his role in the case is to bring his psychiatric knowledge in evaluating Osborne to help the court make informed judgments. He wrote an extensive report about Osborne and determined he had conduct disorder. He said Osborne did internet research about autism, but found he had no signs of autism. Ballenger said Osborne also did internet research for depressive disorders and PTSD but he showed no signs of those, either. He said Osborne has changed in the past two years, getting older and graduating high school, but his findings have not changed. He said Osborne gave a friendly, polite facade "that lulls you into an almost psychotic sleep to forget that he planned to execute his father. " Ballenger testified that the day before the shooting Osborne had a chilling conversation with a woman where he described getting students huddled in a room then executing them one by one. Ballenger said Osborne told him that when he thinks about the shooting now it still excites him and he has no remorse. Ballenger said he can't diagnose that someone has a personality disorder until a person is 18, and that such a diagnosis will stay with a person through life. He expects Osborne's conduct disorder to turn into a personality disorder when he turns 18. Ballenger told about a conversation he had with Osborne where he described shooting and torturing insects and animals, including bees, frogs and birds, with a "chilling sense of fun and eagerness." Ballenger said he doesn't see serious suicidal thoughts in Osborne. Ballenger said Osborne was almost "gleeful" when describing the Townville school shooting.
  • Dr. Mark Wagner, examined Osborne on Dec 27, 2017 at the Greenville County Detention Center. He met with Osborne for about six hours. Wagner said Osborne was "charming," had a "innocent facade" and was "cooperative with instructions." "Seemed like a nice boy," Wagner said. His opinion was that Osborne had conduct disorder. Wagner said Osborne requested a book titled, "Hunting the Caliphate: America's War on ISIS and the Dawn of the Stick Cell." Jail tapes between Osborne and his grandparents were played in court. In one of the calls Osborne tells his grandparents that he didn't put the hole in his cell that he is accused of digging. He said it was there when he got in the cell. In the call Osborne said it didn't matter because he's already facing life in prison. In a different call Osborne admits making an existing hole in the cell bigger. Wagner said Osborne told him he would not take back the shooting and felt no regret or remorse. Osborne told Wagner he thinks about the school shooting often. Wagner said Osborne had theme of pathological lying.
  • Dr. Ernest Martin, a forensic psychiatrist, took the stand. He worked with Osborne from September. 2016 through April 2019 while Osborne was held at the Greenville County Detention Center. Martin testified Osborne did "fairly well" with therapy and responded to treatment. Osborne had hallucinations and was put on antipsychotic drug, he said. Martin testified that Osborne had been traumatized, abused by his father and that Osborne had flashbacks from the abuse and from bullying at school. Martin testified Osborne was depressed. Martin said Osborne did not quite underway the risk of the situation, in regard to the shooting. He said he believed Osborne's home environment contributed to what happened. Martin said be believes Osborne can be rehabilitated. Martin agreed this case was "extremely rare."


  • Jean Claycomb, a volunteer who works with a ministry for jailed youth and the Greenville County Department of Juvenile Justice, was the final witness of the day. She said she has worked with Osborne for two years. She said he was closed and guarded when she met him, and had a hard time connecting with him, but he eventually matured and expressed remorse for the shooting.
  • Nathan Mitchell, Anderson County Sheriff's Office jail investigator, took the stand. He testified he received information on Oct. 16 that Osborne was making a hole in the wall in his jail cell and "made an attempt to escape." Mitchell said a hole was found in the wall of the jail cell that Osborne shared with another inmate. Osborne was charged in connection with the hole. Mitchell testified the hole led to another cell not to the outside.
  • Chrissy Cato, from Greenville County Schools, took the stand. She taught Osborne at the Greenville County Deptartment of Juvenile Justice and described him as "very smart. She said Osborne enjoyed science and astrology. She read computer records that indicated Osborne searched "schizophrenia," "Anderson," "Townville, South Carolina" and "autism." She said Osborne read the Bible and listened to Christian music.
  • McKindra Bibb, forensics investigator at the Anderson County Sheriff's Office, took the stand. She discussed Osborne's internet searches. She testified Osborne searched topics like: the Columbine shooting, the Pulse nightclub shooting and the Sandy Hook shooting. She said Osborne was live on Skype in a group chat during the shooting. Bibb said someone in the group said she could hear gunshots and children screaming.
  • FBI special agent Shandal Ewing is the first to take the stand. She has the case file about Osborne and is discussing his social media activity. Social media posts from September 2016 are shown and read. One of them shows a gun that Osborne says he plans on getting soon, Ewing says. Ewing testified about the social media posts Osborne made days before the shooting where she says he talked about shooting about 50 people.

Fast facts on the Townville shooting:

  • In September 2016, Jesse Osborne posts various comments on social media about planning a school shooting.
  • On Sept. 28, 2016, Osborne shoots his father, Jeffrey Osborne, as his father sits in a chair facing away from him, police say.
  • After killing his father, Osborne kisses his rabbit, Floppy, and his three dogs, he later says.
  • Osborne's grandmother says he then called her, crying and “mumbling unintelligibly.”
  • The grandmother later goes to the home where she finds her son, 47-year-old Jeffrey Osborne, dead. He was shot three times.
  • After shooting his father, Jesse Osborne drives his father's truck three miles to Townville Elementary School, he says.
  • Osborne had attended the school but was attending virtual school at the time of the shooting.
  • At 1:45 p.m., Osborne drives a pickup truck through the fence at Townville Elementary, police say.
  • Osborne fires a .40-caliber handgun, wounding a teacher and two students, police say.
  • One of the students, 6-year-old Jacob Hall, is hit in the leg, causing massive blood loss, doctors say.
  • Firefighter Jamie Brock says he heard the call about a shooting at the school, sped to the school and tackled Osborne on the playground.
  • Once in custody, Osborne gives police a lengthy confession. (Full transcript of confession)
  • Jacob dies three days after the shooting.
  • Osborne is first charged as a juvenile with two counts of murder, three charges of attempted murder and five charges of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.
  • He is later charged as an adult, making a life sentence possible.
  • Osborne has been in custody since the shooting.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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