Appeal brings family of 1999 murder victim back to court

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The body of Jessica Ledford was found naked and posed to look like a random assault in Grand Rapids’ Highland Park in May 1999. The man who killed her gathered with family as they grieved before he was finally convicted and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

On Friday, Marc Osborne was back in court appealing that sentence.

Because he committed the crime 50 days before his 18th birthday, he was eligible for reconsideration under the U.S. Supreme Court decision that said mandatory life sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional.

In 2018, Kent County Circuit Court Judge Mark Trusock decided Osborne deserved his life sentence.

Now, the Michigan State Appellate Defender’s Office is trying a new strategy. It argues his defense attorneys were ineffective counsel because they did not provide testimony about mitigating factors like childhood trauma.

“Not only was Randy Osborne, as we said earlier, substance abusing and mentally ill at that time, he was also allegedly sexually molesting both of his sons,” Claire Ward, state appellate defender, argued before Trusock Friday.

Randy Osborne took his own life in 2008.

Ward grilled Kent County defense attorney Charles Boekeloo about how he defended Osborne.

“Was I aware that family members felt he was molested? No. I just took the information I had from Marc and the mother and there was never any suggestion of that,” Boekeloo said.

In fact, Osborne told his attorney that he had never been abused or in need of mental health assistance.

“When his client says, ‘I don’t have any mental health history and my parents weren’t abusive to me,’ the attorney can only go so far with that,” argued James Benison, chief appeals attorney for the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office.

“It is not unusual for small children to not understand what is happening to them and for them to not encode as memory what happened to them,” Ward said.

“The continued effort to try and say there really was a whole bunch of mental health stuff going on, even their own records are contradicting it,” Benison countered.

Once again, Trusock upheld the life sentence.

“I specifically find that Mr. Boekeloo was not ineffective assistance of counsel. Quite frankly, he did an excellent job on behalf of the defendant,” Trusock ruled.

After refusing to testify previously, the killer’s mother Laura Krisatis took the stand, saying her son was also a victim. She admitted to drug and alcohol use when Osborne was a child and said that he lived with relatives, which also did not go well.

“The system failed him,” Krisatis said.

Jessica Ledford’s mother and stepmother disagree.

“No, society didn’t fail him, she did,” Vicki Ledford, the victim’s stepmother, said.

She said she has seen no sign of the killer taking responsibility or showing true remorse.

“If he was truly sorry, he would not keep putting Jessica’s family through this constantly over and over,” she said.

She said the life sentence is appropriate.

“Forgiveness doesn’t mean absolution and he still has to suffer the consequences of his actions,” Vicki Ledford said. “If he’s rehabilitated, there’s so much he can do in the prison system to help other prisoners that may be getting out.”

In a statement sent to News 8, Jessica Ledford’s mother Kristi Medina, who now lives in Mexico, said in part, “No this was not the work of a juvenile who didn’t realize what he had done. It was premeditated murder from someone who knew what he was doing.”

The case now goes back to the state Appeals Court for consideration.

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