Almost eight years after Casey Crowder was found dead, her mother got to hear the word she was waiting to hear Wednesday.
That word was “guilty” — from Kenneth Ray Osburn to kidnapping and second-degree murder. Appearing at a court hearing Wednesday, Osbourn entered the plea, avoiding a trial that had been scheduled in mid-August in Ashley County Circuit Court, where the trial had been moved because of pre-trial publicity.
Crowder’s mother Melinda Crowder said it’s been “a long road” since her daughter, who was 17 at the time, was found dead in Desha County in 2006, strangled with what police described as a zip-tie.
“One side of me is happy that we don’t have to worry about another trial where he could have gone free in August,” she said. “On the other side, I wanted him to be there for life, but I got to hear the word ‘guilty.’”
Osburn had been scheduled for a jury trial — for the second time — starting Aug. 11. He was found guilty of capital murder during his first trial in 2007 and sentenced to life in prison, but that sentence was overturned in 2009 by the Arkansas Supreme Court who threw out a confession Osburn had given after ruling that investigators had ignored his request for an attorney.
Melinda Crowder said that Osburn was taken immediately back to the Ashley County jail and would soon be returned to the Arkansas Department of Corrections.
“He killed my daughter, he took my precious daughter, and I don’t other parents to have to go through this,” she said.
The full length of his sentence was unclear at press time. Melinda Crowder said Osburn will be credited for time served.
Casey Crowder was found dead Sept. 2 several days after she called her mother to report that she had run out of gas on her way back to Pine Bluff from seeing a friend in Dumas. He car was found abandoned on the side of the road and Crowder’s body was found along a county road.
Osburn was arrested the following week after video from a business showed him driving back and forth down the highway with what appeared to be a female in his vehicle.
He was questioned twice by state police and FBI investigators and it was during those interviews that the Supreme Court determined that he had asked for an attorney and the request was refused and the questioning continued.