Florida man enters plea of no contest Accused in beating of Columbia man during spring break

Cooperating in case

June 24, 1998|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

A Florida man has pleaded no contest to charges he beat Columbia resident Seth Qubeck with a baseball bat, critically injuring him, during an April 16 attack that left two other Columbia men dead.

Daniel Stephan Osborne, 19, is cooperating with prosecutors in the case and has given a statement about what happened the night authorities allege a group of Florida men attacked the Columbia men vacationing in Florida on spring break.

Osborne's plea to the charge of principal to attempted %o first-degree murder is part of an apparent attempt by prosecutors to build murder cases against three brothers -- Jonathan, 27, Joshua, 18, and Christopher Trull, 25 -- by garnering cooperation from the four other defendants charged with lesser offenses.

Prosecutor Ed Davis of Daytona Beach said his office has statements from everyone but the Trull brothers. Jonathan and Joshua are in custody, but Christopher Trull remained a fugitive yesterday.

"Our idea is to prosecute the most culpable ones to the fullest extent possible," Davis said. "There's no intention of entering into a plea bargain" with the Trull brothers.

Davis said his office hasn't decided whether to seek the death penalty in those cases. If prosecutors choose not to pursue capital punishment, the brothers could face life in prison if convicted.

The three Columbia men and two other friends were staying in a beachfront condominium on a nine-day spring break trip to New Smyrna Beach, just south of Daytona Beach.

Police said the men came to the aid of a woman who was being harassed by a group of Florida men. Hours after a fistfight between the two groups, the Florida men returned with baseball bats and knives, police said.

Killed were Matthew Wichita, 21, and Kevans Bradshaw Hall II, 23. Qubeck, 21, spent nearly three weeks in a Daytona Beach Hospital recuperating from being beaten with a baseball bat and stabbed 17 times.

Osborne -- who struck Qubeck twice with a baseball bat in the torso, Davis said -- has not been given a plea bargain for his cooperation.

Davis said the only compensation Osborne could receive would come from the judge at the time of sentencing when prosecutors detail his aid in the case.

"There's no deal," Davis said. "Certainly the judge will know that he has cooperated. And the judge can consider that at sentencing."

Osborne, who will be sentenced after any trials, has been transferred to a jail away from Jonathan and Joshua Trull, who are being held in the Volusia County jail.

Osborne pleaded no contest June 2 to being a principal to attempted first-degree murder.

Though the maximum penalty in such a case is 30 years, state guidelines call for a sentence of between eight and 13 years, Davis said.

Qubeck's family members, who have moved from their Columbia home, could not be reached yesterday for comment. An employee at Sgt. Pepper's restaurant in Columbia, where Qubeck worked, called news of the plea "wonderful."

"People come in quite often and ask how he's doing," said the employee, who declined to be named. He added that the restaurant is still collecting funds for Qubeck's medical expenses.

Others accused in the attack include: Daniel Beard, 17, and Neil Kirkland, 20, charged with attempted first-degree murder. James Kirkland, 22, is charged with aggravated battery.

Pub Date: 6/24/98

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