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Published September 05 2012

Man convicted of raping daughter rips counsel

FARGO – Mark Osier stood trial three times before he was ultimately sent to prison for 30 years for repeatedly raping his teenage daughter in 1994.

On Wednesday, dressed in orange prison garb, the 60-year-old was again in a Cass County courtroom, if only for a few minutes.

During a brief post-conviction relief hearing, a judge ruled that Osier will get a hearing to argue that he had ineffective counsel and should be set free.

It’s the latest development in a convoluted case that saw Osier tried three times for the same crimes.

His first trial, in spring 1996, ended with a Cass County jury deadlocked at 11-1 for conviction. Verdicts must be unanimous.

That August, Osier was convicted in a second trial and sentenced to 20 years. But the North Dakota Supreme Court reversed the conviction two months later on the grounds that the district judge improperly allowed Osier’s niece to testify about how he had fondled her in the past.

At his third trial, a jury found Osier guilty on five of six counts of gross sexual imposition. He was sentenced on March 4, 1998, to 30 years in prison, which he’s serving in Jamestown.

Osier again appealed to the Supreme Court, claiming media coverage created a biased jury and the judge should have allowed him to enter evidence about his victim’s prior sexual behavior. The high court upheld the conviction.

In June, Osier took a different tack, filing for post-conviction relief in Cass County District Court.

His grounds for relief included ineffective counsel, violation of double jeopardy, prosecutorial misconduct, violations of his constitutional rights and jury tampering.

Assistant State’s Attorney Cherie Clark stated in her answer that all of the grounds should be dismissed except for ineffective counsel. She also noted that Osier didn’t specify how his attorney was ineffective, or even which of his three attorneys was ineffective. Osier signed an affidavit Wednesday clarifying that it was Marc Kurzman, the attorney for his second and third trials.

District Judge Steven McCullough summarily dismissed all of Osier’s grounds for relief except for ineffective counsel and prosecutorial misconduct.

A date for the ineffective counsel hearing wasn’t set. McCullough indicated that he would research the misconduct claim to see if it deserves a hearing.

To have his conviction thrown out, Osier will have to prove not only that Kurzman acted ineffectively but that it affected the outcome of the trial, Clark said.

Osier’s current attorney, public defender Gordon Dexheimer, declined to comment about the pending case.

Osier’s daughter, who attended the hearing, also declined to comment.

The Forum doesn’t usually identify victims of sexual assault, either by name or relationship with the assailant. But after the third trial, his daughter consented to be identified by her relationship with Osier.

Osier’s estimated release date is Oct. 23, 2023.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528

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