Georgia Attorney General Thurbert E. Baker offers the following information in the case against Curtis Osborne, who is currently scheduled to be executed during the execution window starting at noon on October 23, 2007, and ending at noon on October 30, 2007.
On October 3, 2007, the Superior Court of Spalding County filed an order, setting the seven-day window in which the execution of Curtis Osborne may occur to begin at noon, October 23, 2007, and ending seven days later at noon on October 30, 2007. The Commissioner of the Department of Corrections has not yet set the specific date and time for the execution. Osborne has concluded his direct appeal proceedings and his state and federal habeas corpus proceedings.
At approximately 1:45 p.m. on August 7, 1990, Special Agent David Mitchell of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation was called to Pine View Road in a desolate area of Spalding County, to investigate a murder. (T. 1031). When Agent Mitchell arrived at the scene, he noticed glass fragments lying on the dirt roadbed. (T. 1031). A 1978 Pontiac Grand Prix was about forty yards from the glass. Id. The car was in gear and still running. The car had gone off the road into a ditch on the right hand side and the two left tires were barely on the shoulder of the road. Id. The right front tire of the car was up on a bank and the right rear tire was in a ditch. Id. The driver’s door glass had been shattered and part of the glass was inside the car on the front seat and floorboards and armrests. The windshield was cracked and the passenger window was rolled down. (T. 1037). The victims, Linda Lisa Seaborne and Arthur Jones, were in the front seat of the car. (T. 1039). Ms. Seaborne, who was in the driver’s seat, was slumped over Mr. Jones. (T. 1037-1039). Both of the victims had been shot. There was a black stick, similar to a policeman’s nightstick, lying on the floorboard to the rear of the driver’s seat. (T. 1040).
An inspection of the car revealed that a bullet had struck the windshield and then passed underneath it through the padded dash. The bullet was lying on the vent. (T. 1049). Additionally, there was a bullet resting on the driver’s door where the glass was shattered. (T. 1052). Arthur Jones had sustained a gunshot wound below his left eye and Linda Seaborne was shot in the neck. (T. 1053). There was blood all over the interior of the vehicle. (T. 1054).
At approximately 5:30 a.m., Special Agent Chris Tolbert arrived at the residence of the sister of Arthur Lee Jones, Melinda Jones. Osborne, who was the boyfriend of Melinda Jones, was also present at her house. Ms. Jones told Agent Tolbert that Osborne was trying to sell a motorcycle for victim, Arthur Lee Jones. (T. 1085-1086). Osborne told Agent Tolbert that, three weeks earlier, Arthur Lee Jones had asked Osborne to help him sell his motorcycle. Osborne claimed that he had not sold the motorcycle or spoken to Arthur Lee Jones since that time. Osborne also told Agent Tolbert that the only contact that he had with victim Linda Seaborne was a week and a half earlier when he was trying to change the title to the motorcycle. (T. 1037).
In the afternoon, Osborne was interviewed at the Sheriff’s office. Osborne repeated the same story that he had told Agent Tolbert about the motorcycle. (T. 1089-1090). Osborne also said that victim Arthur Lee Jones had approached Osborne because Mr. Jones needed money. Osborne had offered for Jones to sell cocaine for money, but Jones declined. (T. 1089-1090).
Later the same afternoon, a person named Marcus Matthews told police that Osborne had sold him Mr. Jones’ motorcycle for $400 a week before the murders. (T. 1072-1074). On August 7, the day after the murder, at about 5:30 a.m., Osborne awakened Mr. Matthews and told him that the police wanted to see the motorcycle because "a guy had been killed.” Mr. Matthews gave the key to the motorcycle to Osborne and Osborne left. Mr. Matthews subsequently went to the Sheriff’s office to inquire as to why the motorcycle had been impounded. (T. 1074-75).
Osborne was arrested and interviewed a third time. During this interview, Osborne admitted that he had sold Arthur Lee Jones’ motorcycle to Marcus Matthews and kept the money, but Osborne denied that he had anything to do with the shootings. Osborne consented to a gunshot residue test to see if he had fired a gun recently and he told police that the test would come back positive because he fed his dog gunpowder on a daily basis. (T. 1096). Osborne also explained that the blood under his cuticles was due to a hangnail. (T. 1096).
Additionally, Osborne told authorities that his fingerprints could have been on the Grand Prix in which the victims were found, since he had gone to WalMart to get a title for the motorcycle from Linda Seaborne, a week earlier. Id. At that time, Linda Seaborne asked Osborne to move her car from one location in the parking lot to another location and he had complied. (T. 1096). Osborne agreed to provide police with the clothes he was wearing on the day of the murders, but said that his mother had previously washed these clothes in Clorox bleach. (T. 1146).
Osborne was interviewed again on August 10, 1990 at 6:35 p.m. by Spalding County Sheriff Richard Cantrell. (T. 1326-1348). Osborne told Sheriff Cantrell that on the day of the crime, he left a message for Arthur Jones to come to Griffin, Georgia to pick up the money from the sell of Mr. Jones’ motorcycle. (T. 1326). Osborne subsequently went to the liquor store. Osborne spent the afternoon on the street selling cocaine, until a well-known narcotics officer came through the neighborhood. (T. 1326-1327). Later that evening, as Osborne was walking down the street, Arthur Lee Jones and Linda Lisa Seaborne drove up. (T. 1328). According to Osborne, Arthur Jones told Osborne to get in the car and then Jones hit Osborne with a nightstick.
Arthur Jones asked Osborne for money for the motorcycle and Osborne told him that it was in a hotel room with "Jeff" and "Scott," two Cuban drug dealers from Florida. (T. 1330). Osborne stated that they stopped at the motel where Jeff and Scott were allegedly staying to pick up some money and Scott gave him a .38 caliber gun, which Osborne stuck in his "drawers" and then walked out to the car. (T. 1333).
Osborne claimed that he shot Arthur Lee Jones in the back of the head because Jones had threatened to beat him and was reaching for a weapon on the floorboard of the car. (T. 1334). Osborne claimed that he climbed out of the driver’s side window of the car and ran away. Osborne could not remember where he left his gun and his beeper. (T. 1298). The Sheriff observed scratches on Osborne, as if Osborne had been running through the woods, but Osborne had no bruises in the places where he claimed that victim Jones had struck him. (T. 1321). Osborne’s gun was never recovered.
An autopsy revealed that Arthur Jones died as a result of a gunshot wound to the back of the head which exited to the left of his eye. (T. 1249). The blood pattern showed that Jones’ body was in an upright position when the victim was shot and that the gun was only an inch away from the victim’s head when it was fired. (T. 1249-1250). The bullet fractured Jones’ skull, causing hemorrhage and destruction of brain tissue. (T. 1243).
Linda Seaborne died as a result of a gunshot wound to the back of the neck. (T. 1256). The bullet entered the right side of her neck, grazed the shoulder up through the spinal cord, went through the bottom of her skull and exited through her left cheek. (T. 1259). The gunshot wound was inflicted from one to two feet away from Ms. Seaborne. (T. 1276).
The bullets that killed the victims were fired from a Ruger Black Hawk .357 Magnum single action revolver and were of the same type found in Osborne’s house. (T. 1196-1200). Osborne’s mother testified that her husband's .357 Ruger was missing. (T. 1487-88).
Osborne’s fingerprints were found on the door on the driver’s side of the Grand Prix in which the victims’ bodies were found. Police were unable to locate the individuals identified by Osborne as "Jeff" and "Scott." The motel records revealed that the room in which these two individuals were allegedly staying on the day of the crime was vacant on that date. (T. 1487-1488).
The Trial (1991)
Osborne was indicted during the October 1990 term in the Superior Court of Spalding County. A jury found Osborne guilty on two counts of murder on August 14, 1991. The jury’s recommendation of a death sentence was returned on August 15, 1991.
The Direct Appeal (1993-1994)
The Georgia Supreme Court affirmed Osborne’s conviction and sentence on June 21, 1993. Osborne v. State, 263 Ga. 214, 430 S.E.2d. 576 (1993). Osborne filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, which was denied on February 28, 1994. Osborne v. Georgia, 510 U.S. 1170 (1994).
FirstStateHabeas Corpus Petition (1994-2000)
Osborne, represented by Mary Elizabeth Wells, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Superior Court of Butts County, Georgia on June 28, 1994. An evidentiary hearing was held on September 18-19, 1996. On August 18, 1997, the state habeas corpus court denied Osborne state habeas corpus relief. Osborne’s application for a certificate of probable cause to appeal filed in the Georgia Supreme Court was denied on April 28, 2000. Osborne then filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, which was denied on November 27, 2000. Osborne v. Turpin, 531 U.S. 1020 (2000).
SecondStateHabeas Corpus Petition (2001-2002)
Osborne, represented by John Hanusz, filed a second petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Superior Court of Butts County, Georgia on September 19, 2001. On November 12, 2001, the state habeas corpus court denied Osborne state habeas corpus relief. Osborne’s application for a certificate of probable cause to appeal filed in the Georgia Supreme Court was denied on March 12, 2002.
Federal Habeas Corpus Petition (2001-2005)
Osborne, represented by Jeffrey Ertel, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia on April 24, 2001. On September 29, 2004, following prior orders denying specific claims raised by Osborne, the district court denied Osborne federal habeas corpus relief. The district court denied a motion to alter and amend judgment on November 3, 2004. The district court granted Osborne a certificate of appealability on specific issues on February 1, 2005.
11th Circuit Court of Appeals (2005-2006)
On March 9, 2005, the Eleventh Circuit denied Osborne’s application for an expansion of the certificate of appealability. The case was orally argued before the Eleventh Circuit on November 29, 2005. On October 16, 2006, the Eleventh Circuit issued an opinion which denied relief. Osbornev. Terry, 466 F.3d 1298 (11th Cir. 2006). Osborne filed a petition for panel rehearing on November 6, 2006, which was denied on December 11, 2006.
United StatesSupreme Court (2007)
Osborne filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court on May 10, 2007, which was denied October 1, 2007.
References to the trial transcript will be indicated by “T,” followed by the appropriate page number.