Anderson, SC (Independent Mail) - Jesse Osborne, the teenager accused in the September 2016 shooting at Townville Elementary School, pleaded guilty to five charges during a hearing on Wednesday in Anderson.
Osborne pleaded guilty to killing his father, 47-year-old Jeffrey Osborne and to killing 6-year-old Jacob Hall. He also pleaded guilty to three counts of attempted murder, related to trying to kill two other students and a teacher on the school playground.
The Independent Mail has a reporter and photographer inside the Anderson County Courthouse. Check back and refresh this page for more on this developing story.
Investigators say the teen killed his father on Sept. 28, 2016, just moments before driving his father's truck three miles to the school. Investigators say the teen opened fire on the playground there, mortally wounding 6-year-old Jacob, a first-grader who died three days later.
Jesse Osborne, now 16, had turned 14 a few weeks before the shooting, and photos taken inside the Osborne home offer a glimpse of what once was Jesse's teenage existence. His bedroom contained electronics, multiple gaming systems and dozens of video games, including multiple versions of the game "Call of Duty." Assistant Solicitor Catherine Huey, one of the prosecutors connected to this case, would later say Osborne had "lots of shooting games."
Family Court Judge Edgar Long determined last February that Jesse Osborne should be legally tried as an adult, weighing things such as the violence of the alleged offenses, Osborne's maturity and whether the teen posed a community threat. At an arraignment in September, the teen, through his lawyer, pleaded not guilty to murder charges and others leveled against him.
At all of his court appearances thus far, Osborne has not yet spoken about the day that changed Townville from a rural community known for its tractor festival to a town that is part of a national conversation on school shootings. It's unknown whether Osborne will speak in court Wednesday.
Osborne's lead attorney, Frank Eppes, declined to comment on the nature of the legal proceeding. He referred questions about it to prosecutors, but prosecutors haven't disclosed the nature of the proceeding.
"I have been very pleased with the way the solicitor's office and I have been able to work through the issues that we can agree on, and I appreciate the courtesy shown to us by the solicitor's office on the issues that we cannot agree on," Eppes said Tuesday in an interview with the Independent Mail.
"I'm hopeful that we can work with the solicitor's office in the coming months to bring this to a conclusion that takes into account the community and the families that have lost so much, including my client's family," Eppes said. "Obviously, my primary goal is to achieve the best outcome for Jesse Osborne."
David Wagner, the 10th Judicial Circuit solicitor who is prosecuting the case, has declined to comment on what will happen during the hearing, saying that he cannot discuss it "due to the laws governing criminal matters."
Records and testimony presented in the teen's waiver hearing in February showed that Osborne had plotted the Townville school shooting for months and had refined his plan in the days prior to the shooting. Instagram messages from an account attributed to the teen show he had studied law-enforcement response times and that he told those he was messaging he would drive to a school "four minutes away" from his home.
Court records also showed the teen Googled "youngest mass murderer" and searched for information on Columbine High School killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.
Osborne, who met with investigators alone after the shootings, confessed to them.
Eppes unsuccessfully tried to get that confession thrown out of court earlier this year. Eppes said the teen's mother, Tiffney, and attorney Rame Campbell were outside nearby before Osborne confessed.
The video footage of Jesse Osborne's confession was played in court in February.
The teen shot his father three times in their Townville home, then put on a vest he wore when playing with AirSoft guns, he said during his interview. Then he "hugged all the animals" before leaving his house in his father's truck to drive to the school, he said.
The teen told FBI Special Agent Aleta Bollinger and Tracy Call, an investigator at the Anderson County Sheriff's Office, that he used his father's gun while firing on the playground.
He said he would have killed more at the school but the gun jammed.
Osborne is charged with two counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder in the 2016 shooting. In addition to being charged in the deaths of his father and Jacob, Jesse Osborne is charged with shooting another student at the school, hurting a third student and wounding teacher Meghan Hollingsworth with a gunshot to the shoulder.
Jacob's parents, Renae and Rodger Hall, are expected to be at Wednesday's hearing, according to Tom Dunaway, one of the Anderson attorneys who represent the boy's estate in a lawsuit filed over the shooting.
Renae Hall has had an especially troubled time since her son's death and has been arrested multiple times in the last two years. She has multiple pending drug charges against her, including one from less than a month ago, according to court records.
Because of Long's determination earlier this year that Osborne should be treated as an adult, the teen faces much stiffer penalties if convicted than he would have if this case had remained a matter for Family Court. If Osborne had been legally treated as a child, the teen could have faced a punishment that would have him allowed him to be released from prison after he turned 21. Being treated as an adult, Osborne could face 30 years to life in prison if he is convicted.