Cullen Osburn (left) and Hussain Alnahdi (right)
MENOMONIE, Wis. (KMSP) - After deliberating for six hours, a Wisconsin jury has reached a verdict in the trial of a Minneapolis man involved in a deadly assault that claimed the life of a University of Wisconsin-Stout college student from Saudi Arabia.
Tuesday, the jury found Cullen Osburn guilty of aggravated battery, but acquitted him of the felony murder charge. A woman in the jury appeared to be holding back tears as the verdict was read. As Osburn left the courtroom, he flashed the peace sign to his parents and the news cameras. He could also be heard saying, "I want a retrial. I'm sorry ... I didn't do it."
"Certainly at least some justice for Hussain, but nothing can bring him back," said Dunn County District Attorney Andrea Nodolf.
Osburn will be sentenced on July 13. Nodolf says since Osburn is a repeat offender that he could be sentenced to eight years in prison for aggravated battery.
Defense attorney, Christopher Zipko, says he believes the split verdict is a direct response to his argument that Alnahdi got poor medical care at hospital and should otherwise still be alive. He says Osburn wasn't responsible for the actual death and never even threw the punch.
“It’s a hollow victory," said Zipko. "No one is celebrating. Senseless. No need for this. Whole event is tragic.”
Zipko believes Osburn will receive a shorter sentence than eight years.
The prosecution and defense teams made their closing arguments earlier in the day.
“The defense is trying to point the finger, blame everybody but the defendant,” said Andrea Nodolf, Dunn County District Attorney.
Prosecutors delivered a fierce, two-pronged closing argument, urging the Wisconsin jury to find Osburn guilty of felony murder in Hussain Alnahdi's death.
“The truth is the defendant saw Mr. Alnahdi, informed the intent to batter Mr. Alnahdi and that is to cause him physical pain,” said Robert Kairser, a prosecutor in the case. “Punch Mr. Alnahdi. And carried out that intent.”
The prosecution painted Osburn as an angry and violent defendant from Minneapolis, who went looking for a party and a fight in Menomonie on Halloween weekend of 2016. The victim’s costume hung as evidence in the courtroom.
They allege that Osburn came across a drunk and vulnerable Alnhadi. Before a blow to the face dropped him to the ground, the Saudi native suffered a devastating skull fracture that would ultimately kill him.
Osburn left the scene and evaded arrest for months, which prosecutors contend is evidence of his guilt.
“I don’t care if you don’t like my client,” said Zipko. “You’re entitled not to like my client. But you are not entitled to ignore the facts of the case.”
Osburn’s defense attorney fought back, describing Alnahdi and one of his friends as the aggressors in the late-night altercation outside a downtown pizza joint. He claims there’s no evidence his client ever threw a punch.
“This entire event is sad,” said Zipko. “It’s tragic. And it’s senseless, but there’s no crime here, folks. Understand that. No crime.”