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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, 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.

never2late September 17, 2011 at 02:58 PM
@ Real Vet: May I suggest to you a wonderful program offered, free of charge, through the VA, called Guitars for Vets. You can read more at guitars4vets.org. Run by dedicated volunteers, it has been a wonderful help to those brave veterans who fought for our freedoms to be able to deal with PTSD though music therapy. All the best to you and, just in case you haven't heard it...THANK YOU!!
REAL Vet September 17, 2011 at 03:07 PM
Actually I took a trip some eyars back to my old 'stomping grounds' overseas. It stopped the nightmares for the most part. Though I appreciate the offer, I think for the best part its under control, with exception of somewhat snapping when someone corners or threatens me. Not sure that will ever go away, but it has improved. I have never attacked or harmed a woman or child however, so somewhere inside the limitations are set. Which is why I have a huge problem with Osburns history oft hat type of assault. I feel that any limitations would have been set in childhod by parents and family. And any family who acts like those people did, it is no surprise he was such a pathological liar and a bully. Most men who have seen comabt have a distaste for more bloodhsed and senseless killing. Only the few who were mentally ill prior are the ones who have those issues. But where he is going....he will have to deal with men much more hard and cruel than he ever dreamed of being. So Karma is in the works. I knew Zach. And if he wanted to harm Osburn it would have been done, but he had real self control as a man should. Osburn was never under any threat from him, and he knew it then and he knows it now. He was drunk and stupid and is simply not man enough to admit it.
Joanne Curley September 18, 2011 at 01:47 AM
Zach was a wonderful, beautiful boy! Our lives will never be the same, everything exciting, wonderful, happy will always have a blanket of sadness layed over it! I miss him more than anyone could ever understand!
Debra August 08, 2012 at 12:45 PM
Two years have passed, and still missing Zach so much. Love you Jo.
Jeff s February 14, 2013 at 09:15 AM
Jeff S Zach u r my best friend went from riding to school chasing the girls around wrestling in the front yard then to taking your mom cigs hiding in the garage Rafters to smoke em to going to have drinks at the bar I miss u Man U gave me hope made me look at life in a whole new prospective wanna thank u for every thing hope u got the bandana found the one u gave me when I lost mine on my bike love u bro

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