|Updated: 6/26/2009 8:22 am
||Published: 6/25/2009 4:30 pm
The Arkansas Supreme Court overturns the murder and kidnapping conviction for the man accused of killing Pine Bluff teen Casey Crowder. In a 5-2 ruling, the high court says police used coercion to get a confession from Kenneth Osburn.
The supreme court says the confession that led to Kenneth Osburn's murder conviction in January 2008 was obtained illegally because questioning continued after he asked for an attorney. Osburn, 48, can now get a new trial for the murder of Casey Crowder.
Casey's mom Melinda said Thursday night she had not read the ruling yet, but knows she likely has to prepare for another murder trial.
"We'll have to. We don't have another choice," Crowder says. "I did think that it was realistic that this could happen. After sitting through the arguments, I felt it could go either way."
Prosecuting Attorney Thomas Deen told FOX16 News Thursday he's still looking at the ruling and couldn't comment further. Osburn's attorneys said detectives made promises of leniency if he cooperated and made Osburn believe they'd arrest his daughter if he didn't confess. Four justices agreed saying his confession should be thrown out.
"I wish I was still waiting, because then it wouldn't be this decision,” Crowder says. “But, I knew that could happen and it did. Since it did we'll just have to do what we have to do and try to make it right."
Authorities arrested Osburn in September 2006, one month after Crowder was kidnapped from the side of U.S 65 south of Dumas. After a six-day search her body was found strangled in a Desha County field.
“If this man has killed before, I'm afraid he would do it again,” Crowder says. “And I would hate for him to get out and this happen to someone else's child.”
Two of the justices dissented. Saying Osburn's statements to police were not coerced and that police did not deny his right to consult with a lawyer.
Patrick Benca, an attorney for Osburn, told FOX16 News late Thursday that the state has 18 days to appeal the Supreme Court to hear the argument again. If it’s denied, then the case will return to Desha County Circuit Court and Osburn could receive a bond hearing for possible release pending a new trial.