Last teen sentenced for beating death in Wasilla

Posted: Tuesday, July 11, 2000

PALMER (AP) -- The last of three teen-agers convicted for brutally beating a Wasilla man to death has been sentenced to 72 years in prison.

Eighteen-year-old Garrett Osborn must serve at least 24 years before he's eligible for parole. He was the last person sentenced for the 1998 death of Wesley Morton, 42, whose battered body was found in a Wasilla playground.

The killing gained some notoriety because of the killers' ages and the location and brutality of the attack.

The three beat Morton unconscious, stabbed him and carved initials into his leg before leaving him to die.

Jonathan David Walker pleaded no contest to first-degree murder and is serving a 75-year sentence. Matthew McWaters pleaded no contest to manslaughter and testified at Osborn's trial in exchange for a 15-year sentence.

Walker was 17 at the time. McWaters was 19.

Osborn, who was convicted of first- and second-degree murder and of tampering with evidence, sat quietly as Superior Court Judge Eric Smith delivered the sentence.

But first, in a tearful statement, he told the judge he is not a ''malicious cold-hearted criminal.''

''Not a day goes by that I don't think about what happened,'' he said. Morton ''didn't deserve to die that day. Mr. Morton's family did not deserve the pain and sorrow I caused them.''

He said he wanted to dedicate his life to helping other troubled teens avoid the mistakes he made.

But Smith said what he did was so grotesque it warranted a heavy sentence.

''I'm not mincing words for a reason,'' Smith said. ''All murders are tragic. This one was horrifying.''

Morton lived in Wasilla and made a living doing odd jobs. He was intoxicated when he and the teen-agers met by chance nearly two years ago. It was not clear what started the fight but the teen-agers quickly gained the upper hand, knocking the man down and beating him.

Morton suffered broken ribs, a ruptured spleen and a torn pancreas. His knee was dislocated when the teens positioned his leg on a wood plank and jumped on it, prosecutors said. Osborn also carved initials into Morton's leg with a knife.

Morton was a human punching bag, prosecutor Roman Kalytiak told the judge. He had asked for the maximum sentence of 99 years.

Public defenders George Davenport and Greg Heath pleaded for leniency for their client, asking for a 40- to 45-year sentence. Osborn had reformed himself in prison, completing his high school classes and diploma, they said.

Osborn helped beat Morton but did not kill him, they said.

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