Murderer of bicyclist Robert Osborn sentenced to 15 years

Ron and Rick Osborn hold a photo of their brother Robert
Ron and Rick Osborn with a photo of their brother Robert

Today several bicyclists from around the Kansas City area and I, along with friends and family of Robert Osborn, attended the sentencing hearing of Fabian Brown Jr., one of the two men accused of killing Robert Osborn as he bicycled home from work on a Sunday morning just three years ago.

Brown and co-defendant Rapheal L. Willis both entered plea agreements recently. Brown had pled guilty to 2nd degree murder and a weapons charge, with the plea agreement stipulating a range of punishment of 10-20 years for the charges.

Today's hearing was to determine Brown's sentence.

On the morning of November 20th, 2005, the two murderers followed Robert, shooting at him from the car (twice, apparently) but missing. They then drove ahead and ambushed Osborn from beyond a tree near 47th and Blue Ridge Blvd in Kansas City, Missouri, killing him with a shotgun blast to the head.

This is just a few blocks from the school where our 6-year-olds attend kindergarten--which we bicycle to and from almost every day. And Robert lived just a few blocks down Raytown Trafficway from our home.

So besides our concern about this case from the perspective of the Missouri Bicycle Federation, I have a real personal interest in this case. My family and I bicycle on the same streets Robert did almost every day--and (we found out today at the hearing) for many of the same reasons Robert did.

Robert's family members share memories; plead for justice
Robert's family gave a really excellent summary of Robert's life and the impact his killing has had on them and their family. Rick Osborn, the oldest brother, made a particular point of the unusual and heinous nature of the crime. Ron Osborn spoke about the weapon Brown had fired twice at Robert (missing both times)--it is the same type used in elk hunting, and the cartridges he showed the judge were really mammoth.

Randy Osborn talked about the toll the murder has taken on him personally, while Robert's father Glenn spoke movingly about the way Robert conducted the funeral of his mother (Glenn's wife) and the many losses he has faced in life, including his shipmates in World War II, his wife, and now his son.

The Osborn family, as typical in these situations, was not allowed to participate in the negotiations leading to the plea agreement. They were dismayed at the reduced charges which resulted from the plea bargains, feeling that for such a heinous crime, far stronger penalties are justified and needed--both to provide a deterrent to future similar crimes and to protect society from these particular criminals.

The Osborns argued for a sentence of the maximum allowed under the guidelines (20 years) or even higher.

Defense attorney expresses remorse; Brown remains silent
Brown's defense attorney spoke briefly indicating that, although some of the family members had not heard Brown express remorse and in fact had heard him laughing and making light of the murder, Brown had indeed expressed remorse to him. Brown himself, in fluorescent orange prison garb and shackles, did not address the court or the family.

The defense attorney asked for a sentence of 15 years, more than the minimum of 10 years but less than the maximum.

Judge passes sentence
The judge spoke briefly, indicating that the practicalities of the case did not allow him to give a sentence that would truly serve justice for Robert or his family. (Apparently by "the practicalities" he meant the plea bargain, the sentencing guidelines, etc.)

He then handed down the sentence: 15 years for 2nd degree murder, and 3 years for a firearms charge, to be served concurrently.

The concurrent sentences mean they will both be served simultaneously--so 15 years total.

Brown has already served about 3 years while waiting for trial and sentencing. With the normal 15% reduction in time in prison for good behavior, he will likely be released in about 10 years.

Sentencing hearing for co-defendant Rapheal L. Willis, who (according to Brown) actually pulled the trigger on the shotgun blast that killed Osborn, is currently scheduled for December 11th, 2008. Willis faces a prison term of 10-30 years.


* SafeStreetsKC - founded by Osborn family members
* KC Star Crime Scene blog
* KCTV 5
* Fox4 News
MANY thanks to the bicyclists attended the hearing today. Robert's family, their attorney, and the District Attorney, all made a point to say how important it is to have that community support, and how much they appreciate it.

Rick & Ron Osborn talk with the media Bicycles parked outside the Jackson County Courthouse