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Cullen Osburn of Minneapolis charged in murder of Hussain Alnahdi, Saudi student at UW-Stout

Cullen Osburn's crime sentences could be worse, given his record with prior felony convictions.

Cullen Osburn's crime sentences could be worse, given his record with prior felony convictions.

Minneapolis resident Cullen Osburn was arrested last week and charged in the beating death of Hussain Alnahdi, a Saudi Arabian citizen attending the University of Wisconsin-Stout.

Alnahdi, 24, was killed after a street altercation in late October, setting off a search for a white suspect whose involvement with the victim was unclear. That search ended Thursday in St. Paul, where cops spotted Osburn, 27, pulled him over, and arrested him.

He's being held in Hennepin County jail, pending extradition to Dunn County in Wisconsin some time this week, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Osburn has worked construction in the Twin Cities; he has a felony domestic assault conviction on his record, and was also convicted of violating a "no contact" order with a crime victim. 

As an 18-year-old, Osburn was found to have made "terroristic threats" against his then-girlfriend. When she turned him down for sex, he said he would "cut her face so no one would want her," and also fantasized about involving her in his own suicide-by-cop at her home.

The criminal complaint in Alnahdi's death says the junior business administration student was drinking with friends that night before they headed to a Topper's Pizza around 2:00 a.m., where he encountered Osburn, who was at the pizza place with four people, two of them his siblings.

A friend of Alnahdi's who witnessed the fight says an "unknown white male began to argue with Alnahdi in an aggressive tone." Alnahdi argued back, and Alnahdi's friend tried to intervene before the dispute turned physical. 

Osburn pushed the friend away and then hit Alnahdi; a friend of Osburn's said the assailant had "two-pieced" the victim, punching him twice in the face in rapid succession. A female witness walking by said she saw Alnahdi's head hit the side of the building as he fell. 

Investigators had initially suspected Alnahdi's murder might have been a hate crime motivated by anti-immigrant or religious bias, but have backed off that claim, with no apparent evidence that Osburn had made any reference to that effect. In his own statement to police, Osburn said the altercation was "not a result of anybody's race."

Osburn's associates from that night had been contacted by police as early as the first week in November, and Osburn contacted an investigator to say he was "very scared and wished to cooperate fully." Within a few days the phone he'd used was disconnected, and cops lost contact with the suspect until he was picked up on Thursday. 

Osburn is charged with felony murder and battery. Both counts bring a maximum penalty of six years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine. Because he has prior felony convictions on his record, Osburn's penalties in this case could be made worse at sentencing, with a maximum addition of six years added to a murder sentence and four years if he is convicted of battery.