The sentencing of John Osnes’ killer Thursday was as muted as the victim’s death was shocking.
There were no angry words for the man who kicked the Hollywood jazz pianist to death in a brutal act of road rage and no emotion beyond a few choked words and a hand smearing away a tear.
“I don’t feel compelled to say things that make you suffer more,” Osnes’ sister Mary Beth Anderson wrote in a letter read in court. “I expect you play that evening over and over in your head, like I do. What if?”
At the defense table, David Jassy, a 35-year-old Swedish national, stared over his shoulder with wet eyes at a courtroom gallery where two dozen of Osnes’ friends sat silently awaiting the mandatory imposition of a sentence of 15 years to life in prison.
Some had attended the January trial in which half a dozen witnesses described a sudden, shocking confrontation between strangers in November 2008.
Jassy, a hip-hop artist from Stockholm on a working vacation in Los Angeles, became enraged when Osnes, a pedestrian, slapped his rented sport utility vehicle after it edged into a crosswalk, according to testimony.
Jassy punched and kicked Osnes, 55, in the head and then drove over his body as bystanders screamed for him to stop, witnesses said.
Letters read aloud from Osnes’ sisters, who were too ill to attend the hearing, and a brief address by a longtime friend referred to their ongoing frustration to find meaning in the senselessness of the crime.
“There are no winners here,” James Crowley, a longtime friend of the victim, told the court.
Osnes’ loved ones had lost his steadfast friendship, the music community had lost a pianist who knew 400 jazz standards by heart, and, Crowley said, turning to Jassy, “You lost most of your life. You lost your son for all practical purposes. You lost the girl you loved.”
At the time of his arrest, Jassy was dating a fashion model, helping care for his 11-year-old son, and, according to his probation report, earning an annual salary of $100,000 through work with American pop acts including Ashley Tisdale.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Johnson turned aside a request by Jassy’s defense lawyer to have the second-degree murder conviction reduced to manslaughter.
The judge cited the viciousness of the assault, in particular a fatal kick to Osnes’ face that fractured his skull in several places and rendered him unconscious. He plummeted to the ground “like a felled tree.”
The judge said he did not believe Jassy’s claim at trial that he acted out of fear for the safety of himself and his girlfriend, and for his rented SUV, which he pointedly referred to as “a three-quarter-ton gross-weight sport utility vehicle.”
“The defendant I think made the situation even worse with his phony testimony,” Johnson said, adding, “I agree completely with the jury verdict.”
Jassy, who has been in custody since his arrest, will be eligible for parole in 2024, when he is 50.
He did not speak during the sentencing, but whispered toward a male friend in the gallery as deputies led him in shackles out of the courtroom. His lawyer said Jassy will appeal the verdict.