Charge filed in beating death with tree branch
Yuba County prosecutors filed a manslaughter charge on Tuesday in connection with the October slaying of a Linda man who was beaten to death with a tree branch.
David Leroy Osbourn pleaded not guilty in Yuba County Superior Court to a single felony count of voluntary manslaughter and denied sentencing enhancement for using a deadly weapon.
Stephen Gilbert Jr., 39, was beaten Oct. 10 and died six days later at Rideout Regional Medical Center.
Gilbert's mother, Anna, was disappointed and said she had hoped for a more serious charge against Osbourn.
"He was murdered," Anna Gilbert said. "It should've been something more than manslaughter."
Osbourn, 23, appeared briefly in court before Judge Julia L. Scrogin, who assigned a public defender to represent him. If convicted, Osbourn faces more than 20 years in prison, authorities said.
An argument between Gilbert and his girlfriend ended when Osbourn intervened and struck Gilbert with the tree limb, investigators said. The girlfriend's name has not been released.
Gilbert was armed with a knife when he was struck, investigators said.
District Attorney Pat McGrath said Osbourn went overboard trying to defend the woman.
"The investigation shows (Osbourn) came to defend Gilbert's girlfriend," McGrath said, "but once (Gilbert) was disarmed he continued to get hit in the head and died as a result of those head injuries."
Family members described Gilbert as a troubled, but good-natured man who had fallen on hard times. Gilbert chose to be homeless, family members said, because he "loved his freedom."
Dusty Nicole Younger was also arrested Oct. 10, but prosecutors said there was no evidence linking her to the death and opted not to charge her. Younger, 22, was dating Osbourn and helped her boyfriend intervene, authorities said.
Osbourn was held in the Yuba County Jail on a parole violation in connection with an attempted burglary in March 2011, McGrath said. Prosecutors used the time Osbourn was behind bars to complete the death investigation, McGrath said.
Osbourn remains in custody at the Yuba County Jail on $170,000 bail.
He is due back in court Dec. 19 and a preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 21.
CONTACT Rob Parsons at email@example.com or 749-4785. Find him on Facebook at /ADcrimebeat or on Twitter at @ADcrimebeat.