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Family calls killer a ‘monster’ for taking their loved one and her unborn child
Johnnie Osborne sentenced to 50 years in prison
CEDAR RAPIDS — A distraught father told his daughter’s killer during an emotionally charged sentencing Friday to look at him and “remember what I told you.”
“This is all I have left of my daughter. This and this,” he said, holding up a flower with her ashes and a memorial program.
“I’ll say it short and sweet — a parent is not supposed to bury their child,” Melvin Watson, father of Asia T. Grice, 25, said during the sentencing of her boyfriend, Johnnie Osborne, 28, in the May 1, 2020, fatal shooting in northwest Cedar Rapids.
Watson, as tears welled up, said during his victim impact statement that he questioned God that day when another daughter called him about the murder. Two days later, he went to the crime scene.
“It was one of the hardest things I had to do. I should have been upset. Angry. For some reason I was calm — like God touched me on the shoulders.”
Waterson started to approach Osborne, sitting at the defendant’s table, after he gave his statement, but five Linn County sheriff’s deputies intervened, and family members also asked him to stop. He returned to sit with family members in the courtroom.
Some family members held a poster on their laps, with photos of Grice, during the sentencing. Osborne’s family and friends were on the other side of the courtroom.
Osborne, 28, declined to make a statement before he was sentenced in Linn County District Court.
Osborne, originally charged with first-degree murder, avoided a life sentence by pleading guilty to second-degree murder, attempted murder and termination of a pregnancy during a felony.
Sixth Judicial District Judge Jason Besler ran the 50-, 25- and 10-year sentences concurrently, in accordance with the plea agreement, for a total of 50 years.
Osborne must serve a mandatory 35 years on the murder charge and 17-1/2 years on the attempted murder charge before being eligible for parole.
Osborne also was ordered to pay $150,000 in restitution to Grice’s estate or heirs, as required by Iowa law.
During sentencing, Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks said Osborne shot his girlfriend, Grice, in the face May 1, 2020, killing her and causing the death of her unborn child.
Little was known about what led to the slaying. The prosecution believed two people were in the apartment when Grice was killed, but the “bulk” of the evidence pointed to Osborne.
Maybanks said when a suspect surrounds himself with others, as Osborne did in this case, it’s “natural for victims and survivors” to think that others somehow played a role. After evaluating that evidence, though, none of it pointed to anyone but Osborne as responsible for Grice’s murder, he said.
Osborne also tried to kill Keonna Smith, shooting her in the head, Maybanks said. Smith’s young son also in Smith’s apartment — at 1610 30th St. NW — and, “by the grace of God, was not harmed,” Maybanks said.
“She miraculously survived to tell law enforcement about it and, quite frankly, that is the only reason we are here today,” he said. “Keonna’s presence here today is nothing short of heroic.”
During a plea hearing in March, Osborne admitted to fatally shooting Grice, who was in her second trimester of pregnancy, causing the death of Grice’s unborn child, and trying to kill Smith.
Victoria McDaniel, Grice’s sister, said her sister’s death has been a nightmare for her and the family, referring to Osborne as “Monster.”
She was hoping for a trial, instead of a plea agreement for Osborne, because she had so many questions about what happened and why he killed her sister, who had such “potential, ambition and a loving heart.”
“You’re a puny little man who couldn’t take rejection,” McDaniel said.
Dontrell Quarrels, Grice’s brother, said it was “unbelievable” that his 25-year-old sister would lose her life and that someone would kill a pregnant woman.
He said he thought Osborne’s life should be taken — “life for a life.”
Smith, who Osborne tried to kill, said she had survivor’s guilt, but she knew her “friend and sister” wouldn’t want her to feel that way.
Smith also called Osborne a “monster” and said his sentence wasn’t enough.
Renee Watson, Grice’s mother, said she “never thought this would be us” — losing a child this way. She said she didn’t approve of her Osborne and knew her daughter wanted to “prove me wrong, and I wanted her to.”
She said she was determined to not shed one more tear during the sentencing and give Osborne that power. She was going to celebrate her daughter’s life on each and every birthday.
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