Bing Colvin, the public defender appointed to represent Kenneth Osburn, has asked to be relieved as Osburn’s counsel because Colvin has become a witness in the case and his office is already handling four unrelated death penalty cases.
Osburn, a 46-year-old truck driver, is charged with the Aug. 27, kidnapping and strangulation death of Casey Crowder.
The 17-year-old Pine Bluff girl’s body was discovered on Sept. 2, in a wooded area near a drainage canal about six miles from U.S. 65 at Dumas where her vehicle ran out of gas during the early morning hours of Aug. 27 while returning home from her boyfriend’s home at Pickens, police said.
Colvin said he discussed the issue with Didi Sallings, executive director of the state Public Defender Commission, and both agreed he could not defend Osburn and provide adequate representation for his other four clients.
In addition to Osburn, Colvin has been appointed to represent a Desha County man and three Bradley County men, all charged with capital murder in four separate, unrelated cases.
Moreover, Colvin said witnesses to a confession Osburn is alleged to have made after his arrest disclosed to him certain information that has made him a witness in the case. Because an attorney cannot testify on behalf of his own client, Colvin says he should be relieved for that reason alone.
Tenth Judicial District Prosecutor Thomas Deen says he will not object to Colvin’s motion to be relieved.
Colvin does not disclose in his motion what information he received from the witnesses but in a recent interview Colvin said Osburn’s alleged confession came after 23 hours of “Taliban-type interrogation” despite repeated requests for an attorney. Colvin said he was basing that information on what Osburn and “someone close to the interrogation” told him.
“I sure hate to give it up,” Colvin said referring to the Osburn case. “This is going to be an extremely interesting case but it’s going to take an awful lot of work, far above a normal capital case.”
Colvin says he doesn’t believe the state has enough evidence to convict Osburn.
Osburn, who lives in the Wolfe Project community near McGehee, was arrested Sept. 28 after police conducted numerous interviews and reviewed videotapes from surveillance cameras at the Sonic Drive-In on U.S. 65 and the Dollar General Store on U.S. 165.
Crowder, while stranded on U.S. 65, had made several cell phone calls, including one to her mother saying her vehicle was out of gas and she would call someone for help.
According to an exhibit attached to an affidavit for the warrant to arrest Osburn, the image of a southbound white pickup truck fitting the description of Osburn’s personal vehicle was captured on a surveillance video camera at the Sonic Drive-In on U.S. Highway 65, approximately three minutes after Crowder made her last cell phone call seeking help.
Less than three minutes later, the same vehicle was captured on the Sonic video camera traveling north on U.S. 65, according to the exhibit outlining the “facts” constituting reasonable cause for Osburn’s arrest.
At 6:46 a.m., about three minutes after the truck passed the Sonic headed north, the truck was captured on video surveillance camera at the Dollar General Store, on U.S. 165, headed east, according to the exhibit.
On Sept. 5, three days after Crowder’s body was found, a woman told police she saw Osburn traveling east on U.S. 165 toward the river. She said a passenger in the truck with was “slumped down and laid over toward the passenger window,” according to the exhibit.
Police noted in the exhibit that Crowder’s body was found east of Dumas which is the direction Osburn allegedly was travelling the morning of Aug. 27.
Osburn, according to a statement he reportedly made to police two days after Crowder’s body was found, said he had taken his daughter to work at a Dumas nursing home sometime between 6:15 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. then went to Matthews truck stop at the intersection of U.S. 65 and 165 to drink a cup of coffee.
He said he left about 20 minutes later headed home to McGehee, according to the exhibit.
When told that his truck was seen traveling north on U.S. 65 minutes after it was seen traveling south, Osburn reportedly told police he turned around and went back to Matthews to buy a pack of cigarettes. He said he bought one pack then went home, according to the exhibit.
But, according to the exhibit, Osburn’s truck was not seen going south again after it headed north and cash register receipts from Matthews, during the time frame in question, does not show the purchase of a single package of cigarettes.
Nearly a month later, on Sept. 28, Osburn was arrested and charged with kidnapping and capital murder.
Osburn is alleged to have confessed following his arrest. According to an affidavit for a search warrant to collect DNA from Osburn’s pets, Osburn admitted he caused Crowder’s death and took her to the location where her body was found six days later.
A trace evidence analyst at the state Crime Lab recovered animal hair resembling that of a dog and a cat on Crowder’s clothing, according to the affidavit for a warrant to collect DNA from Osburn’s dogs and cats.
Police are now awaiting the results of DNA tests on the animal hair.