A 35-year-old man was sentenced Tuesday to 50 years to life in prison for the shooting death of his girlfriend near the Downtown Long Beach courthouse more than three years ago.
John Osborne received the maximum sentence after a jury in November found him guilty of murder, along with a special allegation of using a firearm in the commission of a crime.
On Tuesday, 80-year-old Reynaldo Romero-Contreras stood in front of the courtroom and expressed how he still feels unwell over the death of his 46-year-old daughter, Nancy Romero.
“The way she died, the way she was killed, it wasn’t fair,” Romero-Contreras said in Spanish. “If he did this to her, and he did wrong, I need him to pay for it.”
Romero’s body was found about a block from Long Beach Superior Court on the morning of July 11, 2019. She had been shot in the back and later died after being rushed to the hospital.
Osborne, who was 31 at the time of the killing, turned himself in five days after the shooting, and court records show he has remained jailed in lieu of $3 million bail ever since.
At the time, details about what led up to the shooting weren’t immediately clear, with police calling the crime an isolated incident of domestic violence after the couple’s roommates said they witnessed Osborne and Romero arguing the night before.
But during his trial, Osborne testified that he had snapped and fired at Romero during an argument when she allegedly said, “I’m glad I’m not having your (expletive) baby,” in reference to an earlier miscarriage, according to the Press-Telegram.
Before Osborne would learn his sentence on Tuesday, his attorney Kevin McGurk asked the judge to consider another ruling, given that an assessment of Osborne revealed that he suffers from childhood trauma. McGurk, whose motion for a new trial or modification of a verdict was also denied, also argued that Osborne was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the shooting.
Marlon Duke Powers with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office countered by saying Osborne consumed alcohol after the fact and that it, along with any trauma Osborne has, did not play a factor in the shooting.
“His ability to use that gun without caring of those consequences, that will always be a risk for any individual,” Powers said, referring to Osborne.
Romero’s sister Iris, who also spoke in court, said Osborne was capable of walking away that day, but he insisted on chasing after her.
In court, Iris said that, as a homicide detective with the Los Angeles Police Department, she never thought she would “be on the other end of everything.”
She described her sister as a loving and caring daughter who, despite her troubles, was always there to take care of her father.
“Mr. Osborne broke me in a way I couldn’t even imagine,” she said. “Being a coward to not even face her to shoot her … that’s what hurts the most.”
Judge Judith L. Meyer commended Romero’s father and sister for sharing how they were impacted by Osborne’s actions.
Meyer told Romero’s sister she understood how hard it is to admit being broken and that it sometimes takes getting broken to really appreciate what other people go through.
Ultimately, Meyer’s decision came down to determining if Osborne’s trauma, and other factors, outweighed the risk to public safety.
“I realize Mr. Osborne had a difficult childhood and was the victim of some abuse,” Meyer said while giving kudos to McGurk’s argument and advocacy.
But Osborne has since been able to grow and build a life for himself, Meyer said. She described how despite his trauma, Osborne is a capable person who, prior to the shooting, had a job and spent a lot of his money buying guns.
Therefore, Meyer didn’t see how child victimization had anything to do with Osborne shooting Romero in the back.
“I don’t know how you can say the public is safe when you have a man who’s willing to shoot someone in the back,” Meyer said. She added that if he was able to shoot someone in the back and then run away, “he can do that to anyone, anywhere.”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct John Osborne’s age and to provide Marlon Duke Powers’ full name.