Soldier Gets 28 Years in Prison for Killing Best Friend in Waukesha
Waukesha County Circuit Judge Mark Gundrum calls homicide of 23-year-old Zach Gallenberg senseless as he sends 25-year-old Steven P. Osburn to prison.
An Army vet who served two tours in Iraq will serve 28 years in prison for killing his best friend.
Twenty-five-year-old Steven P. Osburn was sentenced Wednesday for killing Zach Gallenberg in the early morning hours of Aug. 6, 2010, in a Waukesha neighborhood.
The shooting didn’t make sense, Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Mark Gundrum said in passing down the sentence for second-degree intentional homicide.
“For what you did, you need to answer,” Gundrum said.
Osburn’s attorneys at the three-hour sentencing hearing Wednesday afternoon tried to argue a mix of post traumatic stress disorder from Osburn’s time in the military mixed with impaired judgment from alcohol and self defense lead to the fatal shooting of the 23-year-old Marine veteran. Osburn thought he was being threatened by Gallenberg as the two extremely intoxicated individuals had been fighting all night. Osburn feared that Gallenberg would grab his gun, according to the defense.
Osburn told a similar tale, saying there was more than one side of the story about the “worst day” of his life.
Gundrum wasn’t buying that argument.
“There is nothing that convinces me of that,” the judge said.
Osburn had options available to him, and there was no evidence to suggest that Gallenberg would have shot him, Gundrum said.
“You didn’t need to have a gun in your hand at all,” he said.
According to the complaint:
A witness to the shooting told Waukesha Police Department officers that she, Gallenberg and Osburn had consumed alcohol during the night of Aug. 5. Osburn and Gallenberg were arguing about their different branches of the military throughout the night.
The woman told investigators at one point in the evening, Osburn began choking her before going into his bedroom and then outside. Gallenberg eventually followed, she told police, and tried to give Osburn a bear hug, which is when Osburn took out a gun and shot Gallenberg.
In the meantime, police officers were at the residence because Osburn called 911 and said if they did not respond, he would kill someone. One of the officers was approaching the residence when he heard the gunshot sound. Other officers were approaching the building at the same time. One officer reported turning the corner of the building, seeing Osburn, hearing yelling and then seeing the muzzle flash.
Osburn admitted several times to officers that he had shot Gallenberg.
“It bothers me that I shot Zach because he was my best friend, but I was threatened,” Osburn told police.
Gallenberg was transported to Waukesha Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced deceased at 4:47 a.m. Aug. 6.