Gazette Daily News Podcast, May 14 and May 15

Graduation weekend is upon us for Iowa’s universities, and the jubilant graduates will be greeted with some much improved weather. It will be sunny in the Cedar Rapids area with a high near 85 degrees on Saturday. There will be a chance for rain Sunday morning into the early afternoon, but after 2 pm it should be partly sunny with a high near 70 degrees.

“This is all I have left of my daughter,” said Melvin Watson, the father of Asia Grice, as he talks about his daughter during his victim impact statement at the sentencing of Johnnie Osborne at the Linn County Courthouse in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Friday, May 13, 2022. Osborne, 28, of Cedar Rapids, pleaded to second-degree murder, termination of pregnancy during a felony and attempted murder. He admitted to killing his girlfriend, Asia T. Grice, 25, and causing the death of her unborn child. He also admitted to trying to kill Keonna Smith, who lived in the apartment where Grice was staying May 1, 2020. Osborne was sentenced to 50 years but must serve a mandatory 35 years before being eligible for parole. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Speaking of graduations, students are enthusiastic for the return of in-person celebrations at Iowa’s universities after years of COVID-19 disruptions, even leading Iowa State to roll out an additional ceremony to meet demand.

In total, more than 11,500 graduates across the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa campuses are expected to participate in dozens of commencement ceremonies this weekend.

Tears fell and tempers flared Friday in a Linn County Courtroom as family members confronted the convicted killer of a mother and her unborn child.

Johnnie Osborne, 28, was sentenced to 50 years for the murder of 25-year-old Asia T. Grice and her baby in Cedar Rapids in 2020. Osborne only avoided the possibility of a life sentence by agreeing with the prosecution to plead guilty to the crimes.

Keonna Smith, who was in the apartment at the time of the shooting, was also shot in the head; Osborne admitted he had intended to kill her as well but she survived with serious injuries.

After emotional testimony, Melvin Watson, the father of Asia Grice, started to approach Osborne, sitting at the defendant’s table, but five Linn County sheriff’s deputies intervened, and family members also asked him to stop. He returned to sit with family members in the courtroom.

Some family members held a poster on their laps, with photos of Grice, during the sentencing. Osborne’s family and friends were on the other side of the courtroom.

A truck driver was killed Friday morning following a collision with a train operated by Iowa Interstate Railroad.

The crash happened around 7:25 am at the Vail Avenue crossing in Durant. The crossing has gates, but it is not known whether they were functioning at the time of the crash.

The truck’s driver was ejected in the crash. The driver’s name is being withheld pending notification of relatives, the Iowa State Patrol said.

The operator of the locomotive was not identified in initial crash reports.

Durant is in Cedar County, about 40 miles east of Iowa City.

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