The man accused of kidnapping and killing 17-year-old Casey Crowder was denied bail Friday on capital murder and kidnapping charges, beginning a legal process that could end in a death sentence if he’s convicted.
Kenneth Ray Osburn, a 46-year-old widowed truck driver and father of two from the Wolfe Project near McGehee, had his first court appearance on charges of capital murder and kidnapping.
He allegedly kidnapped and strangled the Pine Bluff girl during the early morning hours of Aug. 27, 2006 after her vehicle ran out of gas on U.S 65 at Dumas.
Casey’s body, identified through dental records, was discovered in a remote area east of Dumas on Sept. 2, 2006, six days after she disappeared.
“Casey was a motorist in distress and instead of coming to her aid, Mr. Osburn kidnapped and strangled her to death,” Deen said.
Deen asked that Osburn be held without bond.
“As (Osburn) is going to be charged with a capital offense and I anticipate the state will be seeking the death penalty, I ask that he be held without bond,” Deen told Circuit Judge Teresa French, who was presiding at Osburn’s first appearance hearing in Desha County Circuit Court Friday.
Wearing handcuffs and orange and white striped jail issue clothing, Osburn answered a few questions and told French he didn’t need a public defender. He said his mother had contacted Erwin Davis, a Fayetteville attorney, and he anticipated hiring Davis to defend him.
Responding to Deen’s request that he be held without bond, Osburn asked that a bond be set so he could go to work. He said he is employed by USA Truck of Van Buren, Arkansas.
“I don’t have to go back to the company I’m working for but I could work around here on a farm or something,” he said.
French denied bond.
Osburn, who is being charged as a habitual offender, allegedly has “four or more” prior felony convictions, all non-violent offenses, and while there is no evidence he has committed offenses similar to the one he is now charged, his occupation as a truck driver takes him across the country, according to Deen.
Deen said two other Arkansas law enforcement agencies contacted the Desha County Sheriff’s Office about unsolved murders in their jurisdictions but those leads did not result in any follow up by those jurisdictions.
Authorities still won’t say what specific evidence led to Osburn’s arrest.
“It is cumulative evidence gathered over the last four weeks, including interviews and surveillance tapes,” Deen said.
Deen was referring to tapes from surveillance videos at businesses located along U.S. 65 at Dumas where Casey’s abandoned vehicle was discovered.
Her locked vehicle was found within walking distance of a gas station.
Police said Casey, a senior at Watson Chapel High School, reportedly was on her way home to Pine Bluff from her boyfriend’s home at Pickens when her vehicle ran out of gas.