Justice for Hussain: Catching Up with the Case

Joey Gulotta-

Prosecution for the death of the University of Wisconsin–Stout student Hussain Alnahdi, 24, has begun. Cullen M. Osburn, 27, of Minneapolis, is facing felony murder and battery charges for his involvement in Alnahdi’s death. Osburn, not a student at UW–Stout, was taken into custody by St. Paul police on Jan. 13 after a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Menomonie Police were in contact with Mr. Osburn as early as Nov. 2, when Osburn’s friends and family were being interviewed by Menomonie Police Investigators in Minnesota. During the phone call, Osburn acknowledged to the investigators that he had engaged in a fight with Mr. Alnahdi. Osburn had promised to cooperate with authorities; however, shortly after the phone call, he disappeared, according to the criminal complaint.

This was not Mr. Osburn’s first interaction with the legal system. At the age of 18, Osburn was charged in a domestic violence case involving his then 16-year-old girlfriend, who is referred to in the criminal complaint as A.E. The criminal complaint for this felony explains that the victim “told police that on April 19, the defendant came to her house and attempted to strangle her. She said that he also told her that he would cut her face so no one would want her when she refused his sexual advances that day. Then, on April 22, 2008, A.E. said that the defendant told her he was going to kill her if she tried to leave him. She also reported that the defendant told her that his ‘dream suicide moment’ would be for him to show up at her house with a gun and engage in a shoot out with police.”

After Osburn’s arrest in 2017, Dunn County District Attorney Andrea Nodolf asked for a $1 million bond for Mr. Osburn. Chris Zipko, a lawyer from St. Paul and the attorney for Mr. Osburn, made the following response at the bond hearing: “We’ve spoken with witnesses and we’ve spoken with my client, and it is an issue of self-defense.” Taking Zipko’s statement into account, the bond was set at $75,000 by Dunn County Judge Rod Smeltzer, and the initial court appearance occurred on March 28, where Zipko argued for the lowering of the bond for Mr. Osburn.

At the initial hearing, the issue of Mr. Osburn potentially being a flight risk took center stage. To support her initial requested bond amount, District Attorney Nodolf argued that Osburn fled after the initial incident and cited the break in contact after Mr. Osburn initially reached out to Menomonie Police. Osburn’s attorney argued that “At no point was Mr. Osburn ever fleeing any jurisdiction,” Zipko said. “He went back to his normal life.” The further reduction of Osburn’s bond was denied by the judge.

Mr. Osburn’s attorney has expressed that his client is concerned with how the case has thus been presented in the media, saying that it is “weighing heavily on him.” Mr. Osburn pleads not guilty to all charges and is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on April 20. He is currently in custody at the Dunn County Jail.