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Openings set for Monday in Casey Crowder slaying trial

Opening statements are to be held Monday in the trial of Kenneth Osburn, who is accused of kidnapping and killing Pine Bluff teenager Casey Crowder.
HAMBURG, Ark. (AP) - Opening statements are to be held Monday in the trial of Kenneth Osburn, who is accused of kidnapping and killing Pine Bluff teenager Casey Crowder.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for the Aug. 27, 2006, slaying of the 17-year-old who had run out of gas on U.S. 65 near Dumas after visiting her boyfriend at Pickens.

Osburn, 47, has maintained he is innocent and said in court Friday that he did not want to discuss a possible plea agreement in which he would serve life in prison.

A jury of four men and eight women was seated Friday. The trial is being held in Hamburg and is expected to last all week.

Details of the killing not known publicly before emerged during jury selection. Prosecutor Thomas Deen said Casey had been strangled with a "zip tie," a plastic strip used to bundle electrical cables.

After the jurors had been selected and cleared from the courtroom, Circuit Judge Sam Pope noted that he was told Deen discussed offering Osburn the plea agreement.

Defense lawyer Jim Wyatt said Osburn turned down the offer.

"You don't want to even talk about it?" Pope asked Osburn.

"No, I declined," Osburn said, shaking his head.

During pre-trial proceedings, Pope ruled that statements Osburn made to police before his formal arrest could not be used during the trial. But Pope ruled that statements Osburn made later were admissible.

Defense lawyers said Friday that they may seek to introduce at least some of the statements Pope agreed to keep out. Co-defense counsel Patrick Benca told the judge that the statements could be used to support defense claims that police didn't use proper investigative techniques.

Pope cautioned the defense that prosecutors would also be able to use the tapes if the defense introduced them into evidence.

"Anything on those tapes are fair game," Pope said.

Defense lawyers asked that Pope limit prosecutors' cross-examination concerning the statements. The judge did not immediately rule on that request.

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Information from: Pine Bluff Commercial, http://www.pbcommercial.com

 

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