Murderer gets 18 to life

Saturday, August 8, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

HAMILTON -- After apologizing in court for killing the mother of his 9-year-old son, Steve Colburn received a prison sentence of 18 years to life. Mr. Colburn showed no visible reaction as Butler County Common Pleas Judge Anthony Valen handed down the sentence Thursday.

"This case was a complete catastrophe for two families," said Lyn Cunningham, Mr. Colburn's attorney.

Mr. Colburn pleaded guilty July 2 to a reduced charge of murder in the April 15 shooting death of his ex-girlfriend, Diane Donnelly, 33, of Butler County's Union Township.

He had been charged with aggravated murder, for which he could have received a maximum penalty of 23 years to life in prison.

Mr. Colburn entered a guilty plea because he didn't meet the standards for an insanity defense, Mr. Cunningham said.

Mr. Colburn shot Ms. Donnelly several times at the home of the boy's baby sitter in Union Township. The boy was sleeping at the time and did not see or hear the shooting.

"I'm sorry for causing the death of Diane Donnelly and for all those affected by it," he told Judge Valen.

Judge Valen said the law determined the sentence he gave Mr. Colburn. He must serve three years for using a gun in the crime and then serve 15 years to life. Mr. Colburn, 38, of Union Township, will not be considered for parole for 18 years.

He and Ms. Donnelly had a tempestuous, on-and-off relationship, Mr. Cunningham said.

On the night of the murder, she intentionally took her new boyfriend to a bar where she knew Mr. Colburn would be, he said.

One and a half hours before the shooting, Ms. Donnelly filed a complaint with Union Township police that said Mr. Colburn had threatened her.

But police were unable to locate Mr. Colburn.

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